The Sunday Diigo Links Post (weekly)

January 19, 2014 at 11:28 am | In links | Comments Off on The Sunday Diigo Links Post (weekly)
  • Susan Crawford gets it.
    The theoretical downside is that the Internet devolves into a kind of “pay to play” system, with smaller companies tending to be squeezed out, and prices tending to rise overall.

    That is the dystopia envisioned by people like Susan Crawford, a visiting professor of law at Harvard University and a co-director of Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society. “We’ve got very powerful market actors in America who want to make more money from the same infrastructure, without expanding it,” Crawford says. “The way they do that is to divide markets and then steadily charge more. And on the other side, they want to charge people who want to reach subscribers different rates.”

    tags: net_neutrality mit_techreview susan_crawford politics internet

  • What with Google buying Nest (learning about people’s private preferences for how they heat or cool their homes – potential privacy invasion, much?), and apps like this (NameTag), you have to wonder where we’re headed. Creepy creepy.
    Perhaps the most cynical part of the whole idea, though, is that the creators do plan to offer people a way to avoid being face-scanned like this—but it looks like you have to sign up to their site to do it. “People will soon be able to login to and choose whether or not they want their name and information displayed to others,” Tussy explained in the release. Is the true idea behind NameTag, then, a social network that you have to opt out of?

    tags: privacy apps google glass facial_recognition socialnetworks victoria_turk

  • Something worth reading from Kunstler (for a change).
    To me, the danger of a President Christie is that he is about the last politician one might expect to recognize the nation’s tragic predicament and he is exactly the figure who will mount America’s deadly final campaign to sustain the unsustainable. He represents what amounts to a sort of national debt slavery: We will pay any price to stay where history has marooned us. One vivid example of this was Governor Christie’s decision in 2010 to cancel New Jersey’s participation in building a new commuter train tunnel under the Hudson River to relieve the unsustainable pressure on the existing 100-year-old train tunnels. He derided the project as “a tunnel to the basement of Macy’s.” Christie then diverted $4 billion from the tunnel project to New Jersey’s transportation trust fund in a bid to keep the state’s gas tax the second-lowest in the country. (New Jersey’s transit system, meanwhile, ranks among the country’s worst, and Christie has cut its funding.)

    This little maneuver highlights one of the nation’s most lamentable political failures of recent decades: the lack of will to invest in public transportation, in particular, upgrading and rehabilitating our conventional passenger railroad system. Governor Christie represents the majority of Americans who have no idea how close we are to the twilight of mass automobile motoring.

    tags: chris_christie james_kunstler motordom peak_oil

  • File under “Uh-oh”?
    NASA scientists, along with others, are learning that the Arctic permafrost—and its stored carbon—may not be as permanently frosted as its name implies. Research scientist Charles Miller of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory is the principal investigator of the Carbon in Arctic Reservoirs Vulnerability Experiment (CARVE), a five-year NASA-led field campaign to study how climate change is affecting the Arctic’s carbon cycle. He told NASA, “Permafrost soils are warming even faster than Arctic air temperatures—as much as 2.7 to 4.5 degrees Fahrenheit (1.5 to 2.5 degrees Celsius) in just the past 30 years. As heat from Earth’s surface penetrates into permafrost, it threatens to mobilize these organic carbon reservoirs and release them into the atmosphere as carbon dioxide and methane, upsetting the Arctic’s carbon balance and greatly exacerbating global warming.”

    tags: climate_change methane global_warming

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Cryogenics? try the basement

August 5, 2010 at 8:21 pm | In housekeeping, just_so | 2 Comments

It’s a mystery. Something that wasn’t, started working again.

Sometime in the early months of 2006, my iBook finally completely and utterly fritzed on me: the hard drive died. It wouldn’t, nay: it couldn’t boot up. Nothing but odd click-click-click sounds emanated from the machine. I had already had lots and lots of problems with this computer – it needed a new motherboard, and from thence it developed several other disgusting issues. Totally and utterly infuriating.

In early 2006, then, the iBook finally went for burial in the basement. I switched to a Windows laptop – after first using a Windows-based desktop (aka “hell”). Then, at the end of last December (2009), I got a MacBook Pro for my birthday. Meanwhile, the iBook remained in the basement, useless and a bad feng shui drain on the general clutter that is our electronics graveyard.

And yeah, we’re trying to fix that, so the spouse called around to ask about electronics recycling depots – because of course we never ever just throw anything away. Our goddamn green consciences prevent such easy solutions. We decided on one in Esquimalt, and dragged the old printer, speakers, stereo, keyboard, and what-nots from the basement to the car. Before consigning the iBook, I thought, “hey, plug it in and see if it boots up,” and fuck me, it did.

It makes a funny smell, it won’t load the latest Skype update, the battery seems worth shit-all, but heck, it runs.


On our way to the recycling depot with the rest of the stuff, we drove by Rob Randall who was working on something outside his condo. His iMac “died” recently and he was advised to put the hard drive in the freezer – apparently, cold can work wonders (he hasn’t tested the theory yet – perhaps our tale of rejuvenation-by-cold-basement will inspire him to try it). It seems all those years in that freezing basement knocked some sense into my iBook.

Now consider this: The son recently visited The Hackery, from whence he learned that hard drives have a gel coating (which keeps them cool or something). The gel eventually breaks down or deteriorates, the hard drive gets too hot, the computer dies. According to what the offspring remembers, The Hackery fixes stuff like that – and preferably without years of consignment to a cold basement?

Anyway, my iBook smells funny. I guess if I plan to use it again, I’ll have to make sure it gets refrigerated on a regular basis. Rotting motherboard has quite the whiff.

Display was tun?

January 2, 2005 at 10:51 pm | In yulelogStories | 2 Comments

I’ve been feeling nauseous whenever I spend time at my computer lately,
especially if the light is dim.  I realise now that it’s the
on-going problem with my laptop’s display.  After the motherboard
meltdown last year and some months ago, the display went wonky, going
black if the lid was jarred even one millimeter.  I had it fixed,
but it’s still not 100%, and lately it’s been flickering like a very
bad, ancient tv screen …which I’m sitting too close to.  Hmm,
what to do?  Stop using it, stop blogging, stop writing: that
would be one option.

I could throw up all over the keyboard, I guess.  That would
probably really fix it.  Such action feels imminent, but in the
interest of decency, I’ll just stop writing now.

I hate Apple — hello, are you guys at Apple listening??

March 3, 2004 at 7:08 pm | In yulelogStories | 2 Comments

I can’t even bother to make the links to my previous woes with my iBook, but this is a quickie recap: sometime last summer, my iBook broke. It needed a new motherboard (to the tune of nearly $1K with Canadian taxes). …Ok, you bite the bullet, you get it fixed, not least because you don’t want to switch to Microsoft. Then you learn that Apple admits, “yes, the motherboards on iBooks are wonky, it’s our fault,” and you submit a claim to the company (which is filed, but not yet addressed) to get your money back (only, I’m wondering: do I get my 14.5% tax back, or is that just a bonus for the government?). Ok, I’m still waiting for my money, no sight of it yet. Fine, but meanwhile, I notice that I only have to tilt my screen ever so slightly toward me and the visual display goes black. I’ve been living with this condition for months now, avoiding any tilting of the lid/display once the iBook is on and running, because if I do, click!, black screen, and the cure is to close the lid completely, wait 10 seconds and then open it again. Sort of the high tech equivalent of kicking the appliance. For some as yet unexplainable reason, I was temporarily insane enough to be convinced to let the local computer store/ maintenance guy have a look at the iBook today. This very competent technician (and really, he is, this is not sarcasm on my part here) told me that the cable connecting to the display is stretched and worn from use (duh, that’s what you do with a laptop: open and close it, which I guess means using it!, EXCUSE ME if this was a mistake!!!!! ), and this is causing the problem. The cost to fix? Well, it appears some genius design dude made it so that you cannot replace the cable — a mere 25-cent component, no doubt — and that “the fix” requires installing a completely new display to the tune of $420 plus tax (14.5%, remember?) and labour. Oh goodie. I said no, of course, but guess what? When I got home, the cable decided that it had been stretched and used enough and now the display doesn’t work at all. So, I’m still out nearly $1K for the new motherboard, and if I ever want this stupid iBook to run properly again, I can shell out nearly 50% of that sum again. I’m not doing it. And I hope that someone — ANYONE — connected with Apple is reading this, because your people and my person need to talk. You need to know that you have a supremely shitty product here. It might be white and modern-looking, but underneath it’s a piece of badly-designed crap, and I am not happy. At all. On the plus front: I found out on Tuesday morning that I do have a city storm drain connection in place and won’t be required to spend $4070 to get one brought to my property. Having brought the topic up in that last post, I had intended to write something about money and property, not least because I’m relatively new to both these things, but that’s going to have to wait. My thoughts on money and property had something to do with sex (what doesn’t?), and how money circulates and is everywhere, just like sex, but that somehow certain generations never talked about it. Neither my parents nor my inlaws owned their own homes. Their parents however had, so it’s not a case of geezer Europeans not being hip to the North American Money Making Monster Machine Land Grabbing Co. But our parents didn’t, though: they never got into property ownership (well, my parents did for nearly one year in Winnipeg and for just over a year here in Victoria, before returning to the safety of renting). For them, home — or even condo — ownership was an impenetrable blob, not spoken of, incomprehensible, not to be encompassed. It was not “the new black,” ever. What I think was missing in their perspective was the notion of distributed self, which I really don’t have a problem with: I don’t mind if the mortgage company “owns” a part of me, or if my “assets” are tied up, or if the house is a portal of orifices that are entered at will. (Look, the alternative is paying rent, right? So, you want to make a landlord rich? Come on, who’s being kinky now?) What it takes is coming up with the down payment, after that you just let the money flow, in and out — too often out, if you ask me, so you have to learn to take it in, too. If you get fixated on downpayments, mortgage payments, and all that stuff, you’re in the realm of fuming over submission. It’s ok, submit. I could make a double-entendre remark now about getting slicked up enough, but I’m a nice girl. Ok, that’s it, end of post. Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar, and sometimes it ain’t. Say good night, Gracie. And say good bye iBook.

Tee-Hee Bits?

February 5, 2004 at 7:34 pm | In yulelogStories | 8 Comments

I really feel like getting hammered this evening. Last week, while munching on my favourite confectionary item (hard salted licorice from Holland), I gave a molar the death knell. Low-grade pain for several days now has left me feeling ready to rip any- and everyone’s head off, and this afternoon I had a temporary crown installed. The dentist used plenty of anaesthesia, and I really enjoyed the sensation of being drugged. Unfortunately, it’s worn off now. I’ve heard that it’s not a good idea to mix ibuprofein with wine and that some people have experienced organ failure with this combination, but I couldn’t care less right now: I want relief. A liver transplant doesn’t seem like such a bad thing compared to these revived and irritated nerve endings.

There’s an irony here which doesn’t escape me: last summer I had to get a new motherboard for my iBook, to the tune of nearly CDN$1K. I don’t really have that kind of spare change lying around, and had to swallow very hard to commit to the repair. Hence, I was very pleased to get a call from the computer store the other day informing me that Apple now admits that its iBook motherboards are funky and that the company is starting a procedure to reimburse us iBook users whose computers failed.

So what’s ironic? Just a day or so after learning that I might get my money back, I whack my tooth, and my dentist bill (no insurance, alas) is CDN $1K. (I think I need to address some serious feng shui problems in my living space here…)

And as I said, I’m in a bad mood about this, so don’t comment unless you have something really funny to add.

Meanwhile, my daughter’s choir is giving a special live performance tonight for the Right Honourable Iona Campagnola and other assorted special guests at Victoria’s McPherson Playhouse where Ballet Victoria is premiering Peter Pan. (I’d like to shoot Peter Pan myself, but I’m not the artistic director of a ballet company, so we’ll leave that aside…). I was to bring her to the lobby and then take her upstairs to the reception area, which was tightly guarded, however, by a phalanx of exceedingly nervous and utterly stuck-up society dames ridiculously garbed in off-the-rack evening wear that made them look about as individual as penguins. I hope they were freezing in the pre-performance chill of the theatre. Said creatures seemed afraid that we might pollute the ethereal atmosphere of the mezzanine and coldly told us to wait downstairs. (It’s relevant to know that Viva’s Enriched Chorale is singing for free here, and that they provided the choral backdrop to the recorded music which the ballet is using as its dance score….) Was this gracious? No. These old biddies are the last guardians of an utterly outmoded culture keyed into ossified notions of Old Blighty as defended in the outermost colonial outpost of empire… and they still know, I guess, what’s upstairs and what’s downstairs. I can only keep my fingers crossed that The Great Conveyor Belt gets them.

All I’ve really wanted to work on is the continuation of the Adorno Bits, not Tee-Hee Bits like this, but my life is in bits most of the time: there is so little continuity and it’s all work-run work-run work-run all the time. And so I’ll have to end this note right now because it’s time to go back to the Thee-Ate-Her to pick up the offspring. Then another glass of wine and another ibuprofein to placate the nerves in this bugger of a tooth…

Bad Apple

July 22, 2003 at 7:30 pm | In yulelogStories | 2 Comments

The Mac expert at the computer place finally got back from vacation. It turns out that the motherboard on my iBook is fried. I have no idea what this means, except that it’s going to cost much much more to repair than fixing a VCR, which costs less to repair, but still costs more than buying a new VCR. In Canada, I’m looking at nearly $900 to repair this thing, plus 7% Provincial Sales Tax and 7.5% Goods and Services Tax (or vice versa). Anyway, 14.5% sales tax in total. I also don’t know if it will make my laptop reliably functional, or if it will be subject to further troubles. I totally blame it on the missing feng shui centre of this L-shaped house of course.

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