Rants


Upgraded my iMac to Mac OS Leopard yesterday.  Yes, really behind the curve, I know. I had no pressing need so far. Now, I got a good deal on the Mac Box Set with iLife 09 (mainly for GarageBand) and iWork 09.

The upgrade itself was smooth – popped in DVD, and let it do its thing and in about 1 hour it was done.  But … it cannot talk to my wireless router (Belkin Pre-N – a somewhat old router).  I tried fiddling around for an hour late into the night but no cigar.

I am now really ticked off!! This is because Tiger was able to connect to it, and have been using it with Tiger for like 3 years now.  I upgrade, and it doesn’t !$%$$@ work!  Have googled.  No answer – except the same old idiotic answers from mac-heads (to others having similar problems) which fall in the following pattern:

1. It obviously is a problem with the router.  (Yeah sure. And how come I had no problems with the Mac for 2-3 years. In case you dont realize, it never can be a problem with Apple for these folks)

2. You should have bought Airport extreme and you never would have had this problem (Yeah sure. Just avoid the main issue. It worked fine with Tiger. Besides, no one likes being forced to shell out money when they don’t expect to do so).

I point my fingers directly at Leopard – at Apple.  I cannot understand how it became incompatible between Tiger and Leopard. All I can think now is  Grrr…. ! No freaking excuses Apple! Fix your mess! XP to Vista may be like having a heart transplant, but I dont’ want going from Tiger to Leopard be like going to a dentist! Not when your ads (PC vs. Mac) indicate otherwise. Fix your $#@%! mess!

Anyway, unless I can figure this out, I may have to buy a router.  Not that bad really, but since this wasn’t part of the current plan, it really, really, ticks me off.  Like I said, I don’t like being forced to shell out money. It was working fine with Tiger!!

By now, you probably have heard that the US cyclists arrived at Beijing wearing masks (to protect themselves against bad air pollution there), and how eventually they offered apologies presumably after the US Olympic committee got on their cases.

Almost all the opinions in the US I have read so far seem to be on the side of the cyclists, and take it out on the USOC, IOC, and Chinese govrnment citing various reasons:

  • The USOC for influencing the US athletes to apologize particularly when they are the one to design the masks and provide it to their athletes in the first place.
  • The athletes have very right to protect their bodies.
  • If any, the Chinese government should apologize for having bad pollution in a city where they are hosting an international event.
  • Why should US give a rat’s behind for offending the sensibilities of the big, bad Chinese government.
  • How the IOC sold out to Chinese government pressure by agreeing to hold in China despite human rights records, and pollution etc.
  • How the USOC is selling out by praising the arrangements supposedly just to please the hosts.
  • etc. etc.

In my opinion, the display was done in extremely poor taste because I would expect it to offend the citizens of China, although I would not be surprised if many people in the US give a rat’s behind about that either. The common “comeback theme” to this incident is why should we apologize to a government we don’t approve of? The people of China are generally left out of the picture perhaps because it is presumed that they would be blaming their government too. I mean how could they not?

I think many people in the west usually commit a bad mistake in presuming that the citizens of a country ruled by a regime that the west finds oppressive have no pride in their nation. Or more accurately, that people of that country must think like them, and thus have the same anger and disapproval towards their government in all issues. However, what they seem to miss is that while there may be people in that country who hate their government, hate their leaders, they still love their country, its history, tradition, and culture. That love and patriotism runs deep as one would expect. So I think most of them will still want their nation to be projected in a good light in circumstances like the Olympics, even if it is being projected by those “hated leaders”.

So you may not like China’s policies, and you may think that your displeasure is directed only at their government, but perhaps you do not realize that your resulting actions disrespect the people of China. If you care about distinction, then you may realize why an apology is good even if directed at the hated government. If you don’t care, then that is a different story. Like I said, I would not be surprised if many (not all of course!) people here in the US give a rat’s behind about the sensibilities of the peoples of other nations.

I also think that in general athletes at this level value the medals and the fame more than their bodies – a hell of a lot more. And in cycling? Given its legacy? Come on! Now I certainly do not mean to imply every cyclist is involved in doping, which would be a mean and unfair generalization. I am simply pointing out that cyclists do push their bodies to the extreme – it is part of the sport.

So the US athletes think they require a mask just to walk around, but are going participate in a grueling, cycling competition at the international level? Come again?

In any case, nowadays it is all about winning – and that of course manifests in many ways, and also in many harmful ways. And the fame? Ah – here in the US, that comes as part of the giddy, self-adulation that US indulges in nauseating fashion during Olympics. For mainstream US, I wonder if the only reason Olympics even holds interest is to see US athletes win. In fact, I wonder if it is pretty much the only reason US “needs” the Olympics – just to show others how dominant they are. The operative word there is only, as there is nothing abnormal about wanting your country win in every competition it participates in. But the obsessive nature implied here manifests into the lamest TV Olympics TV coverage possible – mainly about US and more about US. NBC and Bob Costas killed the Olympic excitement in me – and they did not take that long. This obsession also manifests in jingoists sports coverage everywhere you look.

In fact, if that obsessive need is not there, then either all these sports would simply fade away in the US, or become localized events. Of course, then the winners of those local events would still be tagged “World Champion this” and “World Champion that”. For example, the baseball league championship is “World Series”, the NBA champions are the “NBA World Champions”, the NFL is “Superbowl World Champions”. So this urge to say “I am the greatest”, “I love myself – I mean I am great”, “See me. Am I not the greatest?” is already well inculcated. This obsession runs deeper – even the fully “US based” ABC news is ABC World news tonight 🙂 . It is also the country with the “best health coverage in the world”.

I guess this turned into a rant 🙂

This is for people who like to see their beds covered with mountains of pillows.

So how exactly is one supposed to sleep on such a bed? Tell me, tell me – there must be a secret. Am I supposed to somehow contort my body around all these in a way as as to not upset the arrangement of the pillows? Or maybe the bed is for looking rather than sleeping, and I should just sleep on the floor/carpet?

Also, what is the solution to “the twenty pillows on a couch” problem? Apparently, we are not supposed to put them pillows aside to make room for our behinds, nor God forbid sit on/against them. Are we supposed to stand instead, and admire the couch since it “apparently” looks nice with all the pillows?

Say – aren’t beds meant for us humans to sleep on, and couches for us to park our behinds upon? Or have the rules changed? When did pillows get higher preference over a tired body – particularly one that may have partly/wholly financed the bed, couch and the pillows?

A quick one to express my frustration. For my upcoming post, I want to include a couple of videos. Now these are sort of unique videos, with a custom size – smaller than what you see on Google Video, YouTube, and are sort of hi-res (for that size). I mean, unless shown at that native size, they become grainy and it would be pointless to the purpose of including them.

Now WordPress.com, one of the most popular blog sites, allows you to link to YouTube, Google Video easily but offer not much control over the size of video. This irritates me to no end. It also opens the floodgates for other pet-peeves I have about WordPress.com. Apparently, their paranoid view of anything even remotely fancy (although some of which are well founded), is good reason to give highly restricted features. For example, you can upload images etc. but mp3s and audio? No. (unless you buy a space upgrade?) You can embed video, but cannot easily control size (unless you buy a space upgrade?). I think other blogs offer more by default. In short, with regards to these things, WordPress.com gets a D grade – euphemistically speaking!

Now after breaking my head over this, a lot of googling, and a lot of trial-and-error, I finally did figure out how to control the size:

  1. Upload to google video (after establishing an account) – in my case a flash video file (flv).
  2. Use the vodpod plugin to point to it as an external video i.e. do not use the “easy way” for Google Video (since that will not allow size control) .
  3. (Now this step is vodpod WordPress plugin’s part in this sorry game) Have vodpod create a draft blog entry, just so that you can edit that draft blog entry to the correct post,
  4. Adjust the width, height to what you want (actually cannot use the original video size, have to do some trial and error)
  5. Delete the draft. Seems silly doesn’t it? But all this because vodpod does not seem allow you to get Vodpod videos no longer available. link directly – it wants to create a post! Now, I hope I am wrong about this and I just did not know how it is done. Otherwise, now how boneheaded can you get to have this as the only work flow? How hard is to really to expose the vodpod link when you preview in vodpod?

The above works, but now my video would have to stored in Google video, and also there is also some sort of an entry in the vodpod system (the Vodpod videos no longer available. link has a unique id that vodpod knows points to my Google Video), so that I can get it on my blog. In essence, critical information is stored in 3 places – Google Video, vodpod, and of course my WordPress.com blog. Not exactly a good arrangement.

Now ideally, I want the information be in one place. My blog. I upload the video file like I do images, and I point to them from my blog. How hard is that? Sure space can be a premium, but that is my problem. Otherwise, the next best bet is to put it on a site of my choice, e.g. some place where I have complete control. Or at the least, allow control over the size of the !$#@$ Google Video and YouTube embedded control!

But all of this strangely beyond WordPress.com! Come on! This is not rocket science! I have done it myself, and apparently vodpod has figured it out. This should have done in the first version of WordPress that included embedded video support – i.e. many many months ago! I am puzzled as to how/why WordPress.com missed the boat then, and continues to do so! Extremely frustrating for me as a user!

PS: I know I can host my own WordPress.com site where I can have control. But that is not the point here.

PPS: In case I am wrong and there is an easy, I take back everything said above 😉 !

Here are a few things that make me go What’s the big fuss? I don’t want to pass judgment on everyone who feels otherwise – but I probably am 😉

  • Reality Shows on TV: It is everywhere now – Animal Channel, Discovery Channel, Home & Garden, Food network. My colleague and I joked that soon we will see them on CSPAN too. Then we both realized – Duh!
    • In essence, much of the reality show rage can be explained by We need Dirty Laundry as echoed by Don Henley in an awesome, awesome song (check out the powerful lyrics and the live video). The song of course is squarely aimed at newscasters – but based on the dirt on reality shows aimed at satisfying their audience’s thirst for it, I think it has much wider, almost universal applicability.
  • Beer: I really don’t get the fuss about beer. To my taste buds – it is a vile tasting, weak drink. It makes you very thirsty, and output at least twice as much as you input. So what’s the point? Now there are even non-alcoholic drinks that I love which others consider vile (e.g. coffee) – i.e. they are an “acquired taste”. So I can definitely understand that beer is like that – no problem. But what I don’t get is the status of beer. The fuss people in the US make about beer right from youth into college and into adulthood for something that is so blwa…h – I just don’t get it. There are much better tasting and much stronger choices.
  • Beer commercials: Even more confounding. It supposedly has the target audience as “the macho man” – i.e. the one who does not want to look stupid, and wants to swing it with the fairer sex. But paradoxically, the ads seem to convey the opposite:
    • A man ignores the offers of a sexy lady in favor of a lousy Heineken. Now which idiot would do that? And which “macho guy” would be idiotic enough to want to relate to that?
    • Just touch a Coors Light bottle, and it starts to get very cold and snowy, but ladies in skimpy bikinis appear out of nowhere and dance happily. The first time this appeared – you can say odd, but perhaps interesting imagination. But this is the theme of every Coors Light commercial! Are you taking me for an idiot? But I did try Coors Light just in case – no luck yet.
    • Every one of those Miller Light commercials. I would like a warrant out for their advertising folks. Enough said.
    • I did not think beer was exactly a drink of “the sleek and sexy woman” – but I guess it is so according to these well informed commercials.
  • Pickup Truck Commercials: Another one aimed at the macho man. Apparently, Chevy/Ford/Toyota trucks can haul anything you want, even a big 18-wheeler loaded with concrete slabs stuck in a huge mountain. Heck in fact, they can haul the entire mountain itself! I am sure such power can come in handy. And of course all of this is somehow patriotic. Perhaps they are going simply move the mountains “Tora Bora” with some Ford F-150s and Chevy Silverados so that they can literally expose Bin Laden.
  • Golf as a rage, and a major sport: Prime-time coverage – on par with baseball, basketball and football in the US. Now the sport I can believe is relaxing – but showing it on TV, and talking so much about it everywhere? I just don’t get it.
  • Hunting as a sport and on TV: Need I say more?
  • Men and Video arcade games: Never got into it and holds zero appeal to me. An outing to a place like Gameworks, or Dave and Busters does not get me excited, and I have had to go there many times for company celebrations, social outings etc. I try a couple of those car racing games – fun for a couple of minutes. But, I pretty much get bored in precisely 10 minutes.
  • Muscle Car Magazines/Shows and Babes: This is a superb example of a pure fantasy of a stereotypical male: Loves muscle cars, loves muscle car parts, and loves babes in skimpy clothes. Never mind that the last one does not exactly seem to be related to the first two. But who cares? He still thinks – wouldn’t it be so cool to somehow have all of these in one fantasy? Wouldn’t that be ultimate? But how? How? How? Eureka! Simply have the skimpily clad girls stretch sexily on the hood of a muscle car! You could have those girls talk about mufflers, brakes and pads. Now, which girl wouldn’t want to do that?
  • Popularity of obnoxious personalities: These are loud mouthed, pompous asses, but extremely popular – many times for precisely being that. Their ticket to fame is a similar theme: I am an open book. I am honest. I speak what is on my mind. And I believe in what I say. I always stand by my beliefs. People apparently love it when you say what you have on your mind – even if you come out as an obnoxious, opinionated, jackass. But for me, if you are a jackass that trumps everything else – you are going to be one whether you speak your mind or not. You cannot hide your “jackassity”. Besides in many cases, we find these guys are not that honest either. Well, surprise, surprise!
    • I stand for what I believe in: An admirable trait, but is a double-edged sword. It makes you not want to re-examine things, that perhaps you were wrong. It puffs up you ego and confidence and leads you to be a stubborn jackass, and not admit mistakes (but not to worry your fans will still admire you as a strong leader, since you stood your ground). There are too many obvious examples today of this.
  • Baseball: OK, I am sort of kidding ;)! I can certainly understand why it is so loved in the US. I am including this only because:
    • I love cricket for its elegance which I cannot find in baseball. Just cannot get passionate about a game that seems like a more boring (than cricket – if you can imagine that 😉 !), pale imitation of another sport that I love.
    • There are too many games, and more often than not, my favorite re-runs on TV are not on because of a slow, and mostly meaningless regular season game. Aaarrrrgh!