Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Geek Wednesday: Mind Your Manners

Atlas and St. Patrick's, Rockefeller Center, New York (click to enlarge)

Before we get to another rollicking—er, excuse me, staid and polite edition of Geek Wednesday, a couple of notes about what's to come this week.

  • I'll have some suggestions on what can be done about Darfur, and how. Contrary to what my esteemed co-blogger suggested yesterday, I think there is a solution that does not involve Shock and Awe II or the redeployment of our depleted armed forces. We'll have more on that tomorrow.

  • April is National Poetry Month, for those of you who don't pay attention to such things. We'll be observing it the rest of this month, as we have since we began this blog. More on that Friday.

  • And as I've just turned 50, perhaps it is appropriate that we have today reached 500 posts at Daily rEvolution. Now, if someone would just drop $5,000 in our tip jar, I'd really be on a 5-roll! More on that 500 milestone tomorrow.

  • Geek Wednesday

    "The miscreants who need their meds aren't going to sign the code, let alone adhere to it."—Jeff Jarvis, professor of journalism at CUNY, reacting to Tim O'Reilly's call for a Blogger Code of Conduct

    I think I've made myself fairly clear about where I stand with regard to corporate codes of conduct. But now comes along one of the principal voices of all geekdom, Mr. Web 2.0 himself, the head of the company that produces those excellent geek reference tomes with the critters on the covers—and he's calling for a Blogger's Code of Conduct.

    So, does that make it different? Is this supposed to be aimed at preventing folks from writing death threats into comments? If so, then I agree with Jeff Jarvis: there's already laws against making death threats against people, and the nuts who would do it won't check to see whether my blog is carrying the Good Blogkeeping seal of approval before they spout their hatred. Now if it's meant to keep Coulter from broadcasting death-wishes upon New York Times op-ed writers, well then, we may have something to talk about.

    Just kidding; I'm against it, soup to nuts. Bloggers who can't keep their own house in order will lose readers, and that's the most effective punishment there is for the likes of us. I've been called everything from a Nazi to a terrorist-lover to a Chicken Little (by a member of the "global warming is a left-wing conspiracy hoax" club). Everyone is allowed their rant until they cross a line that you don't have to be a psychotherapist to recognize. Then they get blocked. But the question is: do I have to sign into some club and carry a badge on my home page to do what I already do, what I already know is right? Mr. O'Reilly, keep publishing those great geek books; but leave us alone with the etiquette club.

    Instant Rebates on select notebooks at!

    100 Million iPods, and how many of them still work? As Donny Rumsfeld would say, it's only a number. But still, an ambivalence-inducing number at that.

  • The Good: These tiny little music-playing drives dragged Apple right out of the grave, at a time when Michael Dell, Bill Gates, and others had already started gleefully throwing in the dirt. The financial resurrection that the iPod brought to Apple made OS X, the Intel Macs, iLife, and the other great Apple computer products of the past six years possible. As for the utility and pleasure afforded by the iPods, given their lousy record for endurance, I will leave that to each individual to decide for him and her self. For all I know, maybe it's worth paying two or three hundred for a little machine that starts to crap out after a year, for the daily pleasure it brings.

  • The Bad: The environmental toll that these little monsters are taking has already been discussed here. Disposable diapers may be a necessary evil in our times (I bought them); disposable electronics with hard drives and lithium ion batts are a different story. Also of concern is an issue we've brought up again and again here, the odious alliance with the oppressive labor machine, Nike. Apple needs to dissolve that offensive marriage, and then come up with a truly progressive and planet-friendly plan for the proper handling of iWaste.

  • Overall, the iPod has been another example of our culture's absorption with the superficial. As I've said before, we have generally forgotten how to make music; but we sure know how to consume it. This consumptiveness has become reflected in the throwaway culture of image and ignorance that surrounds the iPod. I remember once posting a comment (and a very polite one, Mr. O'Reilly) to an Apple blog at the time of the Nike announcement, noting that an alliance with a company responsible for turning 10 year old Vietnamese kids into slaves was not the best move that Apple could have made. One of the responders to the comment (it might have been the author of the post) blandly reminded me that injustice and evil are everywhere, they're a part of human nature, but that doesn't mean you stop doing business. And that was considered a fit answer to my challenge. It's not our problem, we're Americans—we will buy what we want when we want it, no matter who suffers as a result.

    Save 20% on Network Magic

    Spotlight Rules, Google Drools: But while we're Apple-mashing, let's be nice (in the spirit of the Blogging Code of Conduct): Spotlight is still the desktop search par excellence in the computing world. This week, Google came out with a Mac version of its Desktop Search program. I tried it, and allowed it to fully index my MacBook's drive. After a restart to ensure that the G-Desktop was up and running, I compared it with Spotlight, Mac OS X's onboard desktop search utility. The G-Desktop window opened nicely (with two taps of the Command/Apple key), but the beach balls started spinning once I'd put in a search term. Mind you, a browser window opened almost immediately to show me web results for my inquiry, but Google had some trouble looking over my hard drive. So while it was looking, I opened Spotlight and entered the same term. Instant gratification, organized neatly by file type and category.

    Google will eventually get it right, as they always do with their products. But for right now, Spotlight is still secure in its throne as the desktop search king (don't even mention the topic, you Vista users).

    Fast and easy online tax filing

    Webby Awards Update: The finalists for the Webby Awards have been announced; you can view them here; and you can also vote for the "People's Voice" winners here. The awards show will be in June.

    Which brings us to our site of the week, Amy Goodman's marvelous Democracy Now!. Go check out the current issue, and see whether you find anything about Imus or Anna Nicole's love child or the pictures in the love-astronaut's car (all of these are actual headline stories in the MSM today). Nope: Amy Goodman likes to focus on Iraq, Darfur, Somalia, and the ongoing struggle against corporate corruption (don't worry, the Imus story is in there, too, but a ways down). By the way, if you're in the Boston area next week, you might want to see Goodman and Zinn together.

    Finally today, a graphic depicting the love triangle among MS, Apple, and Linux, from this site. Make of it what you will (click it for an enlarged view).

    Next week, we should have an update on our experiment with MEPIS Linux, which seems very promising indeed; along with a review of Apple's dotmac service, which I am revisiting (they offer a 60 day free trial). You can have a look at my early efforts with iWeb and dot-Mac: I made a version of my I Ching site with Apple's toys.

    And if there's anything you'd like to see reviewed or discussed at Geek Wednesday, just post a comment. But remember, be polite.

    No comments: