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12/05/2003 Archived Entry: ""

According to a WorldNetDaily article, "The city of Washington, D.C., is implementing a plan to install machines dispensing free condoms in several government offices frequented by the public....'[The dispensers are] going to be as common as water fountains,' [according to] Ivan O. Torres, interim director of the city's HIV/AIDS administration." Two thoughts come to mind. 1) Given how slowly the wheels of bureaucracy turnl -- is this a measure called for by Clinton? 2) Does Torres know how difficult it is to find a water fountain in D.C.?

And, in the spirit of competing with Brad (strictly political commentary will be posted later today)...this just in from my friend Paul who writes, "So I was in the lab....today for a good four hours trying to get a Win98 machine to boot and run properly. Clyde was there too, helping a nice woman that does circuit board assembly to get a win2K box hooked to the network and get our Citrix thin-client running. I once heard these type of thin-clients described as "a buggy, really expensive way to turn a 2000 dollar PC into a 300 dollar terminal". Seems that way to me. Anyway, Clyde does UNIX stuff for the automated test-sets over on the test floor. He seems like a renaissance guy to me and he likes Linux and hates microsoft so that makes him a really OK guy in my book. (He also remembered how MSCDEX.EXE was the old DOS CD-ROM loader so I could reinstall Win98 from DOS like I finally had to do.)

Anyway, we must have talked about computers and life and philosophy for at least an hour or two. We had a great ol' time, but for me the high-point was about 45 minutes into the conversation. He told me about going to his girlfriend's house with a DVD movie as well as a DVD player, since she didn't have one. A good DVD movie. And a good DVD player. A movie they were going to watch in her bedroom, since her son was playing with the living room TV using a Microsoft X-Box game console. So Clyde, who is a EE as well as a UNIX kinda guy, sets up the DVD player and goes to hook it into her bedroom TV. Drat. The DVD player is S-video out, and the old TV only takes in RF. No problem, there is a VCR right there, so Clyde routes the DVD player to the VCR and then uses the VCR to just pass the signal through to the RF out and then into the TV. [music up and over: "Send in the Clowns" (1)] Yup, the lawyers are here. And no, the copyright protection Nazis won't let a DVD signal pass through a VCR. Why, Clyde might be actually trying to make an analog recording of the DVD. With that, Clyde might have been exercising the rights guaranteed to him by the Supreme Court's decision in Sony v. Universal Studios 464 U.S. 417 (1984) (2). The lawyers, politicians and CEOs can't let that happen, now, can they? How can they systematically loot the economy if we peasants actually expect things to work properly?

So Clyde must have groaned loud enough for the girlfriend's son in the living room to hear it, because the young teen pops his head into the bedroom. Clyde explains the predicament. The girlfriend's son, exhibiting a mixture of social savvy and technical know-how so prevalent amongst our younger generation, immediately sees that Clyde really needs to get the movie working in the BEDROOM, as opposed to just having the son turn over the living room TV set to him. So the son winks at Clyde and says: Well, I REALLY need to watch the skateboarder/monster-truck/extreme-curling competition on the living room TV; but-- we could bring in my new Microsoft X-Box game console to the bedroom. It can play DVD movies as well as CD-ROM game titles." So Clyde immediately goes for this and before you know it, the DVD movie is playing just fine in the bedroom.

After a Jim-Dandy movie-watching experience, Clyde, ever vigilant against evil, goes into the living room and asks the son why he uses and supports microsoft by buying and using the X-Box game console. And the kid says: "Oh, I don't like games so much anymore, but you can hack a 137 megabyte disk drive into the X-Box and then run Linux on it." (I have to see why Clyde could love the mother of this young stallion. Hell, I love them both already and I've never even met them.) So the kid runs down the feature set: A 700 megahertz processor, a great nVidia 3D-rendering graphics engine, a CD-ROM/DVD combo drive, 4 USB ports (unfortunately with funky connectors) and a 100 mbit network port with an IP address so you can hook the thing into your home network with TCP/IP (once you get that disk and Linux hacked into it). And once this (L-box?)is on the network, Linux can seamlessly use the really big drives you have in other machines. All for 179 dollars. And that includes two decent video games.

Isn't it great to have one of those demonic mwuhahahahaha belly laughs at work? So healing. So cathartic.

But then I frown and ask Clyde: "Clyde, you hate microsoft as much as I. How can you justify giving money to microsoft?" And Clyde grins that sardonic grin only Clyde can do. And Clyde says: "That's the best part. See, Microsoft is in a price war with Sony. So they are losing money on every X-Box they sell. So I get to hurt them once by buying it, and once more by installing Linux on it and once more by not buying anymore games because it's such a good PC with Linux on it. And to really make it sweet, after I diddle around with the two free games, I can put them up on eBay and use the proceeds to buy a Sony Playstation, thereby hurting microsoft yet again."

And to think I thought I was cool for sending a 40 pound Harley flywheel to the President's re-election campaign postage-paid. I am a sad sack slacker compared to Clyde's play."

Best to all,

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