my personal blog

August 21, 2008

Tropical Storm Fail

Filed under: rants — Tags: , — Alfonso Surroca @ 12:31 am

I’ve lived in Florida long enough to live through enough bad-ass hurricanes to have had enough of bad hurricane reporting on the part of the local news. As soon as the possibility of a threat of anything beyond a breeze looms over the state, news agency go into Emergency Ratings Mode.

Picture a war room with frenzied people running about, klaxons blaring, and red lights flashing; now replace that picture with a one of a news room filled with news people who are, instead of eschewing important news for celeb gossip, eschewing important global news for sensationalized hurricane gossip. That’s Florida during hurricane season.

Except that every so often, the 24/7 hurricane “threat” coverage turns out to be true, and we get hit with a real storm. Actually, we’ve been getting hit with real storms a lot lately: In 2004 Florida had to deal with four nearly back-to-back hurricanes—Charley, Frances, Ivan, and Jeanne—in the span of just over a month. Then, six more in 2005, including Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Wilma. That’s in addition to dozens of tropical storms and tropical depressions.

Which brings me to Tropical Storm Fay. With the hype machine broadcasting warnings about Fay for about a week (it felt like a month), T.S. Fay zig-zagged around the state with all the speed and energy of an octogenarian. I think it’s finally passed over central Florida by now, but I stopped paying attention to the weather updates yesterday.

P.S. Don’t forget to click those links for a bunch of sweet hurricane photos.

August 4, 2008

I bought a cheap pair of glasses when my last pair broke because I needed new glasses ASAP, but I wanted to look for a pair that really suited me. See, when you’re buying eyeglasses because you actually need them and not for fashion reasons, you walk into one of several eyeglass stores and you’re fed upon by salespeople like you’re at a car dealer. Except, it’s glasses, and you can still see without having a car.

At any rate, I decided to start looking for a set of specs that suit me, and decided to use the internet the same way I do when making any purchase—check out reviews, compare specs, look for deals, etc. I’m just fine going to blogs for tech info, furniture info, etc., but eyeglasses? Clothing and accessories are a new frontier; everything I wear came with a Target price tag.

Innocently enough, I started by typing Which promptly redirected me to 1-800 Contacts. Well played, 1-800 Contacts, well played. Next, even though the term made me want to puke, I googled “where can I find fashionable eyeglasses?” and basically ended up with LensCrafters and listings. Damn, I could’ve thought of that without Google’s help.

The thing I like about eyeglasses: they’re the only item where the price disparity between no-name, brand name, and designer brand is next to nothing. No-names? Under $100. Ray-Ban? Oakley? $150-$200. Dolce & Gabbana? Burberry? Ferragamo, Prada? $200-$250. And then there’s the issue about insurance covering a good percentage on frames.

And in conclusion, these are the two frames I kind of settled on, after my exhaustive (15 minute) search. Kind of partial to the Burberry specs at the bottom for the Gordon Freeman look….

June 5, 2008

There’s Apple in my PC

My first inclination upon seeing a process whose description is ##Id_String2.6844F930_1628_4223_B5CC_5BB94B879762## in my list of currently running processes is to think it’s some kind of virus, spyware, or some other malevolent piece of garbage. My first inclination would be wrong.


A quick Google search found that it’s part of Apple’s Bonjour service, which gets arbitrarily installed with iTunes, and apparently anything from Adobe these days. Bonjour is basically Apple’s version of zero configuration networking, and the service behind the ability of iTunes users to broadcast and share their playlists. That’s fine and all, but what is it doing on my PC?

After all, Windows already uses its own implementation of Zeroconf, so what’s the use of having a second? I don’t see Microsoft unloading a bunch of Windows services onto unsuspecting Mac users every time they install third-party software that has nothing to do with Microsoft. Thus, I don’t expect to find Apple’s services bundled with third-party software either.

Of course, I’m not especially surprised. These are the same people who pushed Safari on unsuspecting Windows iTunes users a few months back. At any rate, it was not an ordeal to simply right-click the offending process, stop it, and set it to “disabled”. Perhaps I’ll re-enable it the next time I actually need Bonjour (read: never).

May 30, 2008

Google Android: Suck it, iPhone

Filed under: business,rants,technology — Tags: , , , , , , , , — Alfonso Surroca @ 11:05 am

I was just reading about the latest demo of Google’s Android mobile operating system. The Android Community site got an exclusive live preview of the latest version, and posted plenty of pictures and video, most importantly, this:

In a nut-shell, this system is already looking like it can do whatever the snazzy iPhone can dish out, with two key differences: it’s free, and it’s open. Where the Apple software, even with the new App Store and iPhone SDK, is crippled by being under Apple’s lock and key, Google Android will let developers do whatever they want, on their own terms.

May 21, 2008

Thanks for Nothing, Badly Worded Dialog Box

Filed under: rants — Tags: , , , , — Alfonso Surroca @ 6:07 pm

Here is a dialog box I’m often greeted with in Adobe Dreamweaver while working with XHTML/CSS files that have linked graphics:

[name of file] has changed on the remote server since your last get or put operation. Putting the file may overwrite changes to the file. Do you wish to put the file anyway?

In the case that led me to write this, I had FTP’d the most current copy to the server using a separate FTP program; therefore, the server copy was the same as the PC copy. This is how I understood the dialog box:

Since you last put this file on the server, the server copy has changed. If you choose to put this file onto the server, the changed server copy will be overwritten with the PC copy you are putting there now. Is that OK with you?

I have no problem with that. Except, this is what actually happens:

Since you last put this file on the server, the server copy has changed. If you choose to put this file onto the server, despite telling you otherwise, I’m going to copy a previous version of the server copy over to your PC, overwriting your PC’s copy of the file and fucking up your day. Hope you made a backup—oh wait, I guess that was your backup. Fuck you!

Dreamweaver proceeded to take a previous cached version of the file (not even the most current version on the server) and send it to my PC, overwriting the most current version. Then, apparently, it took that now-old version and steamrolled the server’s current copy with that too, leaving me with old copies of the file on both PC and server. Whee.

This is kind of like being transported back in time in a time machine, except just one hour back in time, and without a way back to the present. Thank for making me go back in time without a way back, badly worded dialog box.

At least I didn’t get a disease that would be easily curable in the present, but is incurable in the time where I was sent. Even if I had, I’m quite sure any disease that’s curable right now was equally curable an hour ago.

April 11, 2008

Wii: No Gamers Allowed

Filed under: rants,reviews,technology — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , — Alfonso Surroca @ 11:53 am

I have a confession: I’ve never beaten a Wii game. Despite lining up at midnight and purchasing the Wii on launch night, I have never played through to the end of a single of my Wii games. I blame Nintendo for ignoring the rules of crafting a solid entertainment experience; namely, you need to retain the player’s interest throughout the entire plot, not just the first hour of game play.


April 7, 2008

No Gas Day, Part II

Filed under: business,rants — Tags: , , , — Alfonso Surroca @ 11:14 am

Seriously, people are still on about this “buy no gas” nonsense? Do so many people have such a fundamental lack of understanding in economics that they actually believe that boycotting the two largest gasoline brands will force a price war that cuts the price of gas in half?

I’ve been seeing the Facebook group How to get GAS back down to $1.30 per gallon popping up lately. I already ranted on this nonsense the last time I got wind of a word-of-mouth movement to lower gas prices using consumer might, some two and a half years ago.

I won’t even bother to delve into the reasons why this is bullshit this time around. In a nut-shell: there is more than enough demand for fuel that a boycott will do nothing to shift the price of a barrel of oil. Your individual vote counts. Don’t waste it on nonsense like this. Get to the polls this November instead if you want real change, people.

June 21, 2006

3D Desktops: Not a Great Idea

Filed under: rants,technology — Alfonso Surroca @ 4:41 pm

I think the 3D desktop concept is beginning to go too far. I was looking at this video today of the “BumpTop” 3D tablet PC type interface which mimics the way documents are “organized” in a real-world desktop. As pretty as the interface might be, it suffers from a fatal flaw: The cluttered real-life desktop is not a good organization method. (more…)

March 16, 2006

Dude, Where’s My Music?

Filed under: music,rants — Alfonso Surroca @ 3:12 pm

I wasn't around in the Sixties and Seventies, but I'm pretty sure that mainstream recording artists and their fans weren't too terribly preoccupied with reliving (and rehashing) music from the Fourties or Fifties. They were too busy creating a generation of groundbreaking music to worry about that. So, why, since about the time "grunge" came and went from our popular psyche, have we been so damn preoccupied with re-recording classic musical styles of past generations? Is it because we've got easier access to music than we used to, better information, and so we are now better able to listen to and appreciate that music? I think it's because there's something fundamentally lacking with music today.


February 18, 2006

Digital On-screen Graphics: Pop-ups for Television

Filed under: advertising,rants — Alfonso Surroca @ 12:29 am

Have you noticed your screen real-estate shrinking?

Years ago, networks began placing their network IDs as digital on-screen graphics, nicknamed "bugs", small watermark logos that often appear in the lower right-hand corner of the television broadcast. These began as innocuous, only mildly obtrusive logo watermarks which popped up infrequently during broadcasts to remind viewers which network they were viewing. In an era before time-shifted set-top boxes and on-demand digital cable broadcasts, these little logos did provide some measure of benefit to viewers, allowing channel-surfers to know precisely what network they were watching in an instant. This was how these "bugs" became a Trojan horse for advertising. (more…)

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