Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Bill O'Reilly on the PS3, gamers & iPods

So Mr O'Reilly has a new target for his disassociated reactionary rants - GAMING. Yup, it's the new Communism, this year's War on Christmas, worse than heroin or alcohol or tobacco:

Bill O’Reilly Slams PS3 Launch, Gamers, iPods, Digital Tech (not in that order)

There's a good discussion on Slashdot on the article at

I like this quote in particular:

"I don't own an iPod. I would never wear an iPod… If this is your primary focus in life - the machines… it's going to have a staggeringly negative effect, all of this, for America… did you ever talk to these computer geeks? I mean, can you carry on a conversation with them?"

Speaking as someone who has (somehow) managed to become a tax-paying fully-employed married adult with children, despite all of the horrible influences of computers and video games in my life since the age of 5 or 6 years old, I have absolutely no idea how anyone talks with me. Not a bit. I mean, I can barely even write coherent sentences in my native language, let alone carry on a conversation, or, say, teach high-school students how to speak effectively and defend an argument. Or write business proposals. Or conduct meetings, or training sessions, or interview job candidates.


While I agree that a lot of mass-marketed entertainment can be a low-fidelity lossy replacement for reality, that's not really a new problem, or something that the Sony PS3 or Apple iPod introduced.

To a large degree, people from my generation and younger generations play video games the same way our parents and grandparents play card games, board games, darts, bowling or other not-so-physically-active forms of entertainment. Multiplayer games, networked or not, are the way we hang out and de-stress and enjoy each others' company. My 16-year-old brother-in-law and I don't sit down in front of the TV to watch football games, we play Madden. Or Halo, or Red Faction, or another fun multiplayer game.

Any form of entertainment can be addictive, but calling gamers irresponsible and witless is no more true than exculpating Scrabble players or someone who enjoys a hand of solitaire for their moral weakness.

In the words of today, WTF, Mr O'Reilly. Are you just an old fool too removed from your own listeners to have any idea of what people do with their time? Or does this look like an inflammatory target, something that can be easily railed against, not targeting a traditional minority group like gays or blacks or Jews which would generate backlash, and generate angry call-ins, attract listeners and ad revenue?

Maybe you should walk down the hall from your broadcast booth to visit the sound techs and radio engineers working in that building, and see what they say. Maybe talk with them, see if they can carry on a conversation. Or the folks who host your website. Or the accountants tallying your revenue from podcast downloads, online advertising and TV broadcasts. I'm sure you interact with some IT support people from time to time, try asking them what they enjoy doing in their spare time, what they're interested in, if they have families, if they're active in their communities, if they go to church, if they (gasp) fire up a PC or console game from time to time.

You'd be surprised.

Monday, November 13, 2006

DriveImage XML

So I was looking for a decent alternative to Symantec Ghost, and stumbled across DriveImage XML which is a nice drive-image utility for Windows.

I'm still testing it out, but it can use volume shadow copy on WinXP (= copy your HD while you're running Windows), split and compress your backups, browse saved images... looks pretty nice.

TreeSize Free

Since I've switched to my new Dell XPS M1710 laptop, I've been trying to find good Windows-style ways of doing what I'm used to doing with Ubuntu. One of my favorite *nix one-liners is `du -k | sort -r -n | less` to list the contents of the current directory by size - it's an easy way to figure out what's taking up space in a given directory or filesystem.

There's tons of software in the Windows world that does this, but most of it is shareware or commercial-ware, which is fine, but I don't plan on spending money for something that two tiny shell utilities can manage to do. Then I came upon TreeSize Free from JAM Software - Windows Freeware, which does exactly what I need - show which directories are eating up the most space - and is free. Works fine with my Windows XP install, it takes a little while to chew through the directory tree on my C: drive, but I'd expect that.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

General Dynamics GoBook XR-1 Rugged Notebook - US

General Dynamics GoBook XR-1 Rugged Notebook - US

Apparently GD makes laptops, in addition to Stryker combat vehicles and nuclear submarines. This machine is MIL-STD 810F compliant, works from -23 to 60 degrees Celsius, is sealed against dust and water, and can be completely immersed in a bleach solution for decontamination. And features an Intel Core Duo 1.83Ghz CPU, ATI graphics card, up to 2GB DDR2 SDRAM and a 40GB or 80GB SATA hard drive! Woo, who needs a Dell?

Remember remember the 0-days of November

Remember, remember, the 0-days of November!

Or, um, instead of being like Guy Fawkes and trying to blow up Parliament, you can set the kill bit on the XMLHTTP CLSID:

This seems like a particularly nasty Internet Explorer bug, since it affects all versions of Windows except Windows Server 2003, and the workaround kills XMLHTTP functionality, which is one of the key features that attracted developers to write for MSIE in the first place.