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Inventor of the Modern Pinball Machine Dies At 100

Spencerian TILT (89 comments)

Eventually, in the Game of Life, the flippers stop working, quarters won't take, and you just can't save your ball.

Thanks for all the memories, good sir! May your gameplay in the afterlife have infinite credits and no more tilts!

more than 2 years ago
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Aleph One 1.0 Released

Spencerian Marathon and the Halo Series (105 comments)

As someone already noted, the Marathon series was made by Bungie.

By the time Bungie was bought by Microsoft, much of Halo's building blocks were done, a game originally designed for both Macs and PCs.

There's plenty of Marathon homages in the original Halo (haven't yet played 2 or 3 myself). First, look on Captain Keyes's uniform for the Marathon symbol at the game's starting adventure on the bridge. Just as you leave the captain, look on the bulletin board at the entrance: An ad there says "Colony Ship for Sale" (a reference to a Marathon game level). Cortana, the AI, is another name that parallels the name of another mystical sword, Durandal (Marathon's sassy AI). See http://halo.wikia.com/wiki/List_of_Marathon_references_in_Halo for more.

Marathon was among the first (if not the first) FPS with multiplayer support (thanks to the Mac OS local networking) as well as establishing the convention of using the mouse for head-target movement. The concept of the Vidmaster (See http://marathon.bungie.org/vidmaster/ ) (using the weakest weapon at the game's highest difficulty to completion) was a Marathon first.

more than 2 years ago
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Nokia Names Microsoft's Elop As New CEO

Spencerian And the CIO is Microsoft Bob! (140 comments)

My eyes read that heading wrong. I saw:

Nokia Names Microsoft's Flop As New CEO

Now, I know that Nokia would have plenty of these to emulate, but, really, to make Windows Vista your CEO, wow.

more than 4 years ago
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Revenge of the Cable Customer

Spencerian Going it Apple TV-style...for now (397 comments)

Comcast's customer service has been good for me, but their costs, not so much.

With a $150/month bill, I turned off the TV side, turned in the receivers and bought a new flat-screen and an Apple TV, which I use through my Comcast internet to download content.

With the Apple TV I can itemize the few cable TV programs I watch, such as "No Reservations" from the Travel Channel and "Mythbusters." The iTunes Store lets me buy these shows as a season for the cost of 1/3 of a month's bill, rather than renting. Being able to buy or rent popular movies on the fly is a nice touch, too.

The Apple TV isn't a perfect solution. But I'm not a typical customer, so I know how and when to record or rip content from other sources as needed. I keep up with live stuff from my HD broadcast antenna. Strange to say, I've not missed national cable news.

For all else, I pull around the laptop and watch it from Hulu. If I really wanted, I'll connect my laptop to the HDTV with a DisplayPort to HDTV connector, straight into the TV.

The biggest problem in going this route is storage. Had to upgrade hard drives as the iTunes content rests on the ATV drive as well as the central laptop HD.

And yes, since the food is good, I like being "enslaved" to iTunes. But I'm more like Colonel Hogan, who only looks imprisoned and steps out of Stalag iTunes every so often for additional stuff.

more than 4 years ago
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Flash Support Confirmed For Android 2.2

Spencerian Some of you keep forgetting something... (282 comments)

Flash wasn't built for mobile devices.

If you want it to suck cycles on your desktop or most laptops, that's not a problem, for your PC or Mac has them and electrical power to spare, generally.

But Flash sucks the electrical life out of mobile devices. This isn't theory, it's fact. Take your laptop off AC power and see it die after a few YouTube videos or Flash games.

I'm not against Flash. I'm against it on devices that must be reliable and are built with limited processor and electrical power.

Flash is the Web standard of .NET. It's sloppy. It's developer hasn't made great inroads to optimize it or secure it. It is flexible, but some of its features make little sense on a multi-touch screen. And only Adobe makes it.-

If Adobe wants to side with another platform for Flash AND make it work, great. But apparently Apple doesn't want to be Adobe's guinea pig and it has every reason not to.

Apple has already dealt before with competitors both inside and out who change their business plan and as a result, leave Apple twisting in the wind. It's good business practice not to let your business become overly dependent on others. Hell, Adobe was in that situation when Apple began to flounder. So why would Apple emulate Adobe in that regard?

As for Flash on the Android? Let's see it, then. What doesn't kill your phone only makes it stronger.

Perhaps Apple will have Billy Dee Williams in for some endorsements, standing over a person with a locked, overheated phone.

" Problem with your Droid? "

more than 4 years ago
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Shuttle Makes Rare Night Landing

Spencerian Re:Enjoy 'em while you can, folks (57 comments)

I'm not anti-Obama. I'm anti-idiot. I'm black, and even *I* know he's an idiot for cutting the program in this way.

NASA is on my pedestal because people with short-sighted visions have given us *only* NASA to put there. Plenty of other presidents (both GOP and Democrat) could've started a stronger private industry initiative decades ago with a long-term vision of private space launches. They haven't.

If someone had the vision to push private industry harder *and* phase out NASA's sole ability to lift humans into space safely by now, I'd be all for that. So while Obama's had the cohones to push for privatized space travel, his approach is a baby-with-the-bathwater approach that leaves us in a much weaker position than having STS in place, even in its Apollo-era interim from 1975 to 1981.

more than 4 years ago
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Shuttle Makes Rare Night Landing

Spencerian Re:Enjoy 'em while you can, folks (57 comments)

I appreciate the pull of private industry to space.

But big suitcases of money from the government is not real cash, and you know it. Business works truly on real dollars from real funding. What the government calls funding, I call "venture capital."

And we all know what's happened before when people make bright ideas out of nothing from a business standpoint: The 2001 "dotcom" stock crash happened for a reason.

The point I'm making is to keep a space presence in place until it's replacement shows up. I almost don't care who makes it, as long as it's affordable and reliable and not the Russians (good space people in their own right, but we shouldn't be able to go to space on their behalf).

No president has ever cut the jugular to the space program like this. Some might argue that it's time had come. But, in so many ways, the current president lacks critical vision that risks the sight of what good comes from investing in the future, rather than merely concentrating on the (equally important) social issues. If the president had vision, he'd realize that the offshoots of the space program (such as mobile computers) have helped the poor as a result become less poor.

more than 4 years ago
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Shuttle Makes Rare Night Landing

Spencerian Enjoy 'em while you can, folks (57 comments)

As many of you know, the 2011 U.S. Budget has killed all funding for the Constellation program, the replacement vehicles for the STS program.

The president wants to fund private enterprise to perform launches to low-Earth orbit.

Nice job, Mr. President. The only close-to-working manned flight capability is Virgin Galactic's SpaceShip Two. While this is an awesome setup, it's designed for recreational suborbital flights only.

Thanks, President Obama. It's forward to the past for us with a 1961 launch ability, where either we stick out our thumbs (towels not included) for a Soyuz lift, or we don't get to go to the multi-billion space station that we mostly own--or anywhere for that matter.

And let's not worry about the big frickin' rocks that occasionally could pummel us, and the space tech needed to even consider an option to stop that.

STS may have its warts, but it works. Fund one damned vehicle for 2 trips a year until private industry catches up. Is that so hard?

more than 4 years ago
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Apple Bans Jailbreakers From the App Store

Spencerian You've a right to hack hardware you own... (507 comments)

...But do not expect the hardware/software's creator to give you carte blanche access to the resources to do it.

And heaven help you should you do what they fear you or others could do if your code has a serious bug; spam or interrupt the cell network or a local wifi network. The onslaught of Apple's lawyers, not to mention the FCC and other international communications regulators, would by a iPocalypse in itself.

more than 4 years ago
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The Voynich Manuscript May Have Been Decoded

Spencerian Uh, What Did She Say? (320 comments)

I followed along with the original article's premise, which was intriguing enough... ...Until she started to cite Dan Brown's horribly written book, "The Da Vinci Code," which purports itself to be a "sourced" novel.

Right. And Wikipedia's data cannot be wrong, and Oswald really acted alone.

Not that the writer has to be Christian or even a theologian, but mixing her research alongside (jaw-droppingly bad and easily refuted) fictional information (the "Priory of Sion" was made up in 1954 or so) just asks someone to call BS on her whole entire study.

That would be too bad, since she might have stumbled onto the first decent lead in the decoding riddle.

more than 4 years ago
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Volunteers Wanted For Simulated 520-Day Mars Trip

Spencerian I volunteer one group of idle people... (356 comments)

The United States Congress.

We won't miss them, really. How many more new laws do we need? Seriously.

more than 5 years ago
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Virtual Autopsy On a Multi-Touch Table Surface

Spencerian The first app for the "Apple Tablet"? (72 comments)

"Say you've got a victim of drowning. You need to probe inside to determine if water is present in the lungs, or if the victim died prior to immersion. And, say, you need to upload your results to your boss, the sheriff, the district attorney, and the press corps, all with one click.

"Yes, there's an app for that."

more than 5 years ago
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Exoplanet Has Showers of Pebbles

Spencerian Re:In related news... (341 comments)

It's what happens when you think your online English-to-Latin translator works sufficiently. :)

It should come out as "You knew the job was dangerous when you took it."

more than 5 years ago
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Exoplanet Has Showers of Pebbles

Spencerian In related news... (341 comments)

US Fidelis is setting up its new headquarters here for all the car warranty repairs they'll get from the new space colony there.

more than 5 years ago
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Open Source Not Welcome At Palm App Catalog

Spencerian Palm's only partially getting it (174 comments)

Palm is only partially getting the big picture of the iPhone's success. Admittedly, however, they're doing a better job of it than, say, the carriers supporting the Android initiative. The Pre is the closest thing to an "iPhone killer" out there.

But Palm, you need the apps. Nay, you MUST bring the apps if you want your phone to begin to compete on Apple's multiple levels.

I agree that the person involved in this Palm app flap is likely overreacting. And for the dweebs that don't seem to get it regarding Apple's vetting process for apps: Don't think the FCC wouldn't haul Apple to court (and the cell owners lynching any Apple employees they'd see) if Apple couldn't show that they've checked EVERY app they've allowed on their phone (and, as a result, into the international cell network) without reasonably ensuring that the app doesn't cause an individual's phone to die or, worse, infect the iPhone net (and others) with bad or malicious code that could compromise the cell networks. Sure, Apple seems sometimes political about the vetting (note a recent app about health care that Apple seemed to reject arbitrarily), but otherwise they're only hurting themselves if they don't allow most apps from being available.

The iPhone is (as a fan and an owner) an fair phone but a very powerful and extensible mobile computer and Palm must match that functionality. The Pre is it's only decent competitor in terms of its relative features, OS and flexibility based on its carrier's desire to support the hardware without butchering it down for carrier-only apps (**cough**Verizon**cough).

But the apps bring Palm only so far. They need a mechanism that isn't carrier marketing specific to support and augment the hardware features of your phone. For the iPhone, iTunes handles everything and fairly well. Palm must bring it's own iTunes-like PC/Mac application that handles syncs, mates with their new Amazon music initiative, can access their Palm app store, AND even (get this) use the approved Apple process for third-party iTunes library support that won't get them into trouble as they did with spoofing their hardware with iTunes itself.

Right now, Palm is shooting themselves in the foot if they are rejecting apps for any reason other than gross obscenity or copyright/IP issues. They'll soon headshot themselves if they don't get even a modest competitor to iTunes running, in my humble Mac-consultant opinion.

more than 5 years ago
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Tour Companies Battle Over Trademarked Duck Noises

Spencerian A likely story (251 comments)

I think the lawsuit is quackery, myself.

more than 5 years ago
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British Library Puts Oldest Surviving Bible Online

Spencerian Making the most of it (568 comments)

This work should be helpful in the translation issues that some scholars and theologians have faced, or worse, perpetuate.

IMO, the most difficult problems in Bible translations is (1) bias based on a reader's idea of what things say and (2) literallist POVs that don't consider that idiom and metaphors in the text shouldn't be taken (ahem) as gospel. One example from a Catholic apologist is the modern statement "it's raining cats and dogs." We today know that means "it's raining very heavily." Write that down in a book, bury it for 2,000 years. What would people then think that phrase means. A literalist will honestly think that cats and dogs fell from the sky. A person skilled not only in translation but in the culture of the time knows it to be a figure of speech--and will NOT change the wording despite that understanding.

And that, in an oversimplified example, is why humankind went from one Christian church to over 23,000. It's become a matter of bad translation and/or interpretation.

more than 5 years ago
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Neo's Last Name

Spencerian Why "Thomas Anderson"? (320 comments)

"The Matrix" movies have a lot of symbolism. Of course, that's like saying a tire has a lot of rubber.

Anyway: Neo's "birth name" in the Matrix, Thomas Anderson, was a play on his messianic destiny. "Thomas" is the name of one of Jesus's apostles, specifically, the man who doubted Jesus's resurrection until he could touch Christ's wounds from the crucifixion. "Anderson" comes from "son of Anders" or "son of Andrew"-from the Greek: "Andreas" means "man" or "manly."

So, Neo's name in the Matrix, where he continually doubts he is what Morpheus claims he is, basically infers that he was a doubting "son of man" (a name that Christ often used to refer to Himself as the son of God). Pretty heavy allusion. Of course, Neo touches his own wounds before he dies and his mind reboots, sheds his own disbelief of the Matrix's hold on him and becomes the One.

The movies load more allusions to both he and Trinity. Look at Neo's apartment number ("101") and the room number where the movie begins (where Trinity is hacking) and ends (room "303").

Many other writers of books on the movie's philosophies determined this stuff long before me, so don't shoot the messenger (much).

more than 5 years ago
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Mobile Gaming and the War On Fat Fingers

Spencerian iPhone 3 and the dock connector (28 comments)

Now that Apple is allowing developers to create apps that can use the dock, expect all manner of options for non-screen input.

It's likely these games won't be very cheap but they certainly will be richer. There's still a problem in how to hold the iThingie with the game input.

A good (and fun) example of a sausage-finger-compatible game is Zombieville USA.

more than 5 years ago
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Logitech Makes 1 Billionth Mouse

Spencerian Coming Soon (456 comments)

...the Logitech Limited Edition Pied Piper.

more than 5 years ago

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WTF are you SMOKING?!

Spencerian Spencerian writes  |  more than 9 years ago

That's all I can stands, I can't stands no more.

Today I get blitzed by a few posters over blitzing the cable network Spike TV, which isn't doing menfolk any favors by representing itself as the "First Network for Men." What men? Sexist, muck-sucking bastards?

I don't mean that all (or even many) men should be and act civilly and classy and be a poster child for GQ or something. But DAMN! Try not to publicly show how tasteless you can really be by watching some of the swill you find on that station.

And ANOTHER THING. The Matrix movies were great. Perhaps you weren't born during a time where the only SF you had on TV was Original Series "Star Trek." Perhaps you were born long after the movie lines emptied of people wanting to see "Star Wars" again and again. Perhaps you were born in a time where SF choices were wide and plentiful. I wasn't. I take pleasure in so much variety and haven't become jaded from it all.

Perhaps you haven't read a Bible, where a hero comes to save the world, and dies doing it. Not original, these parts in the movies, but exciting to see. The Matrix was great SF, and they were smart enough to know that good stories end. I am content not to see a "Matrix 4" just as I am happy not to see the original "Babylon 5" storyline resurrected just for a dollar's sake.

And don't even get me fucking started on the "Star Wars" 1, 2, and 3 episodes. While they aren't the same laugh riot as the original movies, they make great popcorn movies, have great effects and a few notable great actors (Ewan McGregor), it's still "Star Wars." And don't blame George Lucas on ruining your childhood. YOU ruined it when you did that thing back in high school---and you know what I'm talking about, you sick bastard.

You fucking grew up. Time stole your childhood.

Now get back in the line to pick your "Return of the King" extended edition DVDs. I'll see you there. And if you even think of cutting, I'll beat your ass silly with my replica Ranger sword.

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Mac OS X Maturation and the Next Big Things

Spencerian Spencerian writes  |  more than 10 years ago

More and more folks are using Mac OS X. More importantly, not only is OS X flexible enough to handle almost anything its competitors can do (and with panache) but that there is strong iron (in the form of G5-equipped servers and desktops) to use it with.

My worries come from the mountain of New that grows each time Apple creates something different (or remarkets something mortibund into something interesting). This is what makes a company strong--to create something and reach goals despite the tendency of the market to only maintain its current performance levels.

With maturity and diversity comes new licks, from both competitors and from others as well. The first Trojan, in the form of a payload-less file disguised as an MP3, opens the door to imaginative ne'er-do-wells with time on their hands.

Mac OS X malware may convince some folks that running their systems as an administrator is really a bad idea. I may run as a regular user, which should limit what code could possibly install or execute, limiting any problems to the home folder only.

Or so I hope.

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It's a Breath Mint AND a Floor Wax!

Spencerian Spencerian writes  |  more than 10 years ago

After posting a review of the latest edition of a book and reading the comments, I've gleaned more about the rifts that are still all too present in the Macintosh world.

There are the Original Mac Heads who will fight tooth and nail to keep running only with Mac OS 9, fearing or disliking the changes they've heard about with Mac OS X.

There are the PC Switchers who get a taste for Mac OS X, but feel that they still have a better deal in some ways with their PCs running Windows, and usually compromise with themselves and own both kinds.

There are UNIX aficionados who are generally pleased with OS X from what they've heard or seen, but consider OS X still limiting, for one reason or another, in comparison to their other *nix boxen ("I hate NetInfo!" "Can I just run the command line?" "I don't know if OS X can compile this app." "I need to develop apps that work on PCs/Linux/Windows too...").

And there are the few elightened ones who buy and use what suits them, but eliminate nothing from consideration--so long as it works in a UNIX ancestry or relation.

Today, I have little need for a PC except to play some games that haven't been ported to Mac OS X, and perhaps to keep my tech skills in tune with the mainstream PC tech industry.

I guess it comes down to what a person really does with their computer, day in and day out. Compare what and how you do thing on one platform, and compare it to others, and one might get a big surprise in performance, ease, compatibility, or efficiency.

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Steve Jobs, the "Digital Mogul?"

Spencerian Spencerian writes  |  more than 10 years ago

Steve Jobs, who happens to hold down two CEO positions...one for some movie company, and another for some fruit company, has been making the Mouse's ears burn of late.

Most recently, Pixar, who created the best selling animated film to date, told Disney that Pixar would end their relationship of movie making and shop around for a better deal. Comments I've gleaned from a recorded Jobs interview also indicate the reasons were more than just financial--Jobs essentially accused the Disney management of making "embarrassing" creative decisions that brought them some pretty sad non-Pixar movies, such as "Treasure Planet."

Meanwhile, Jobs rides the waves of success, not only with Pixar, but with Apple Computer and its iPod music players, the iTunes Music Store (which exists primarily to sell iPods), and has had some good successes with its new Power Mac G5 computers.

Rumors swirl as well of talk from disgruntled Disney heirs and friends who apparently want someone's head on pike for driving the company nowhere fast.

Does all this attention and success make Jobs some sort of new baron of bytes in this mega-corporate age? Time will tell, but given the quagmire that has Disney investors in doubt of Eisner's leadership, as well as the desparate need in Hollywood to one-up itself, I think Jobs could find himself offered at least a seat on the board of Disney if--IF--nothing else in his world conflicts with the notion.

Three jobs as CEO for Steve Jobs? Well, I guess that wouldn't happen unless Disney attempts to buy Pixar and its innovative (and profitable) resources in exchange for Job's leadership...it's not like something similar has happened before...

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Ah, To Be Black, Conservative, and a Geek

Spencerian Spencerian writes  |  more than 10 years ago

With the temporary demise of my blog on Mac OS news and commentary (at least until I find someone willing to write with me and create a decent site with commentary), this seems a good place as any to add additional commentary about Apple, technology, and social stuff as any.

I typically post only when I have something important to say. Looks like the moderations agree with me most of the time, so my aim of not wasting bandwidth or other people's time seems to be working.

To the list of friends that have marked me as such, welcome and thanks. To those who aren't, well, ya can't please everybody.

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