Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Geek Wednesday: Geeks 1, McCain 0

I thought this was an April Fool's gag when I first saw it, but it was for real. John McCain was hitting Newsvine founder Mike Davidson's myspace page for bandwidth and content. So Mike let the Senator have it by making a slight alteration on the image that McCain's geeks were stealing (click graphic to enlarge). The whole story is well told in this DK post, and in Mike's own words.

Senator, I hope you've learned something: when you steal a geek's bandwidth, you're hitting below the belt. And believe me, geeks know how to get back, good and sharp. Don't mess.

Speaking of April Fool's Day, Google's this year was not quite up to its usual sophistication. The toilet WiFi thing just didn't do it for me—not like the interplanetary search station job posting of a couple years back. But those clever astro-geeks at APOD had me fooled for a second: imagine, Quidditch in outer space!

So, what's big in geekdom this week? Yeah, yeah, Steve's made a deal with EMI on DRM-free music. I wish I could get as wet in the panties as the mass media are becoming over this, but I just can't, I'm sorry.

Now the rumors of a June Leopard release date, I can get interested in. The WWDC is the week of 6/11, so if TS is on target with its info (which isn't always so), then there's the time you can figure on seeing the Leopard stalk Vista.

By the way, can you guess where the graphic above came from? All those white guys staring up at something as if it were God (kind of like the drones in the famous Apple 1984 ad, recently (in)famous for its transformation into anti-Hillary propaganda)? It's from the WWDC website banner. It reinforces something I've talked to my daughter about: the world needs more girl geeks, desperately (and more Black, Hispanic, and Native American geeks). That's why projects like Ubuntu Linux and the MIT $100 laptop are so critical: we can't have this monochromatic, one-gender melody to our technology song. There has got to be real diversity brought to geekdom, within the next generation, or we'll just wind up with more overpriced garbage like Windows and the iPod. And that's no April Fool's.

Until then, however, the Mac is still the best hardware platform for your geek needs, if you want great graphics delivered on a beautiful display with crisp performance. Now that CS3 is out, Photoshop is Mactel-compliant at last, which leaves one more big animal left to bring into the universal binary zoo. Apparently, MS is in beta with Office for Mac 2008, which will be fully UB and ready for release by the end of this year.

I found another OS that's worth a close look in MEPIS Linux. This is Ubuntu with a touch of Windows-style interface in the GUI and some additional sophistication. If you're used to Win2k or XP as your OS of choice but want to try Linux, you may be pleased with what you see in MEPIS. Note the Start menu-style look and feel in the screen capture at left (click to enlarge). I ordered the MEPIS 32-bit disc (it cost all of $17) and installed it onto the Wintel machine here, an older Gateway P4 with a 1.3 GHz processor, 640MB of RAMBUS RAM, and an nVidia 128MB video card. MEPIS ran G-Part, the Linux partition manager, and let me set up a Linux partition without harming the existing XP partition. Then it installed effortlessly and without incident. It actually configured the video card better than Ubuntu had, perhaps by finding a better driver for my nVidia card. I haven't gotten to try Red Hat yet, but I've seen Suse a little and used Ubuntu a lot; and I have to say that MEPIS is the most efficient and versatile flavor of Linux I've seen yet.

GW Site of the Week

This one's a beauty: is a truly creative site, resplendent with such a diversity of art and life that you could easily spend an hour there and not have enough. I found this photo at their photo-of-the-day section (click to enlarge). Great design, marvelous use of Flash media, strange and inspiring stuff all the time. Bookmark it and check it out regularly. This is the web at its very finest—John Trippe and company, take a long bow.

And now for your punishment: I was throwing out some old notebooks the other day and found a piece I'd written for my Life Lessons in a Time of War book, which never made it in there. It was meant to be a prose poem for geeks. Well, it would be a waste to just toss it in the garbage, so I'll do the next best thing. You can stop reading now.

Whoever told you that your work is about nothing more than zeroes and ones—a binary treadmill—throw him out the window of your mind.

Hear the voice that tells you that technology is about the manipulation of machines and data—and then silence it.

What is the purpose of 0 without 1? What need have you of hardware without software? Can your heart beat with just one ventricle?

Thus, these things are not opposites. Opposition is a delusion, the fable of drunken old men who rape little boys and write sawdust pages about their priestly sanctity. Turn within and kill them, shut them up for good.

The cult of opposition is a lie. Complementarity is real, because it is alive. Truth is only fleeting, never fixed or eternal. Truth and untruth; zero and one; these are the lungs that absorb and process the air of love, squeezing its nourishing essence and sending it outward to the world.

So whether you write poetry or javascript, you must love the medium you do it in. Tell the computer that you love it, and it will no longer be a machine.

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