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Diary
By TheophileEscargot (Mon Aug 31, 2009 at 06:26:29 AM EST) Reading, Theatre, MLP (all tags)
Reading: "Rabbit Remembered". Theatre: "Pornography". Watching: "The Hurt Locker", "Mesrine: Public Enemy Number One". Annoyances. Web.


What I'm Reading
Finished "Rabbit Remembered" by John Updike, which takes the book-a-decade Rabbit saga up to the millennium. Just a novella, in the collection Licks of Love, but at 182 pages it's not that much shorter than the original Rabbit, Run.

Interesting to see how the characters are getting on. Actually has pretty much happy endings for the grown children Nelson and Annabelle, which makes for a satisfying ending.

Even so, without Harry himself, the Rabbit-shaped absence doesn't make for a book that's as compelling as the previous four. I think the appeal of the series was seeing how the changes in America since the Fifties affect this one man, and what he thinks of them. Without his point of view, the State of the Union stuff seems a bit disconnected from the events in the characters' lives.

Worth reading if you've read the others though: decent coda to the series.

Theatre
Saw Pornography at the Tricycle theatre. Play's got a lot of attention lately: tells the stories of a disparate collection of Londoners around the time of the 7/7 bombings.

One of them is one of the bombers, but you don't get a lot of insight into his background: just his musings on his final journey.

Pretty interesting, and keeps your attention, but it might have been a little bit overrated. Despite some clever intercutting, it's basically just a group of vignettes with a common hook. Seems to be trying a bit too hard to hit the reviewers buttons, including some pretty gratuitous (male) nudity.

The run's finished now, but though you may have missed a decent play, you didn't miss a life-changing experience.

Independent, Guardian reviews.

What I'm Watching
Saw The Hurt Locker at the cinema: Iraq War movie about a specialist team who make IEDs safe. Good film. Not very heavy on plot, but tense and well acted. Generally seemed pretty realistic except for a couple of scenes especially the odd firefight in the middle of nowhere.

Worth seeing.

What I'm Watching 2
Saw the concluding part of Mesrine: Public Enemy Number One. As good as the first part (you'd expect so since it was filmed as one and split afterwards). Well, the Seventies fashions weren't quite as good. In some disguises Mesrine looked eerily like my Dad used to.

You should definitely see this, but start with the first one.

Annoyances 1
I still keep seeing "Iphone versus Android in smartphone death duel" articles, but I don't really buy it.

It seems to me Apple is only interested in the top end of any market. They like to sell fashionable, premium, heavily advertised products for a nice fat fistful of dollars as profit. They're not interested in the tooth-and-claw struggle at the bottom end of the market to shave off a cent's worth of plastic and turn a two-cent profit into a three-cent profit.

Google on the other hand makes its money by shaving off an infinitesimal profit from a vast number of page hits. If the smartphone market is going to eventually take off and start delivering lots of hits, they want those hits to go them and not Bing. So, Android is worth a punt: build some software, give it to the phone manufacturers for free. Google want as many hits as possible, so they want their smartphones and software to be as cheap as possible. They're mostly interested in the bottom 90% of the market.

So while there's a certain degree of competition at the moment, they're basically going after different sections of market. They could probably coexist indefinitely.

Annoyances 2
After reading a not-terribly-related Carnage4life blog, I started looking at some Google Trends graphs for social networking sites:

SocialNetworking

It seems to me that Facebook stopped growing about February 2009, Twitter seems to have peaked in July 2009, and MySpace has been shrinking since July 2008.

Basically, the whole social networking fad seems to have peaked.

Just as there came a point where everybody who needed a blog had a blog, I think everyone who wants to be on Facebook is already there. There are also probably some people there who don't need or want to be there, but read in the papers that it was the next big thing.

So really, I wish all the other sites on the web would stop trying to be Facebook.

Like, I check my Yahoo webmail which I've had since the mid-Nineties, and get told a suspiciously attractive young lady I've never heard of "would like to connect with me". Or I log into YouTube to see if there are new videos from my subscriptions, and it tries to tie me in to my Google login.

Really guys, I just want to check my email and look at some wacky videos. If I wanted to be on Facebook I'd join Facebook.

The fad's peaked. The market's mature. The bandwagon's rolled out of town. Stop trying to bug me into joining the last fad.

Web
Random. The Office Kid (via) provides the childless a fake kid to get off work. Careers in Jazz (via fluffy). Places to take your parents in London. Etymology of Henchman.

Economics. Kaletsky reckons recovery worse for Eurozone.

Philosophy. Posted a couple of things to the stoic forum about Bertrand Russell in The Conquest of Happiness and History of Western Philosophy.

Video. Indie vs. Independent movies. Water Rocket. Museum of Animal Perspectives includes armadillo. Kush. Vectron, More Mitchell and Webb. Bear-eared nursebot lifts patients out of bed. Another Downfall.

News/articles. Muslim claims he was kidnapped over prayers. Joe Abercrombie on his next book. Transition by Iain Banks is available on Amazon and an abridged version will be podcast free (MeFi)

Articles. Advantages of depression. Thumbdrives sent by carrier pigeon. Book claims crowds become more altruistic in emergencies.

< I keep my book in a big plastic ziplock bag | on doors >
Crunchy on the outside, smooth on the inside | 25 comments (25 topical, 0 hidden)
(Comment Deleted) by xth (4.00 / 3) #1 Mon Aug 31, 2009 at 07:14:20 AM EST

This comment has been deleted by xth



True by TheophileEscargot (2.00 / 0) #2 Mon Aug 31, 2009 at 07:22:18 AM EST
But if pretty much everyone who would enjoy Facebook is already there, there's not much point in Yahoo Mail trying to nag me into using Yahoo's Facebookalike stuff.
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It is unlikely that the good of a snail should reside in its shell: so is it likely that the good of a man should?
[ Parent ]
(Comment Deleted) by xth (4.00 / 2) #3 Mon Aug 31, 2009 at 07:30:13 AM EST

This comment has been deleted by xth



[ Parent ]
Thinking of new things is hard by Herring (4.00 / 1) #8 Mon Aug 31, 2009 at 10:36:38 AM EST
And they might not work. Stick to remakes and sequels -lower risk.

You can't inspire people with facts
- Small Gods

[ Parent ]
Twitter by ad hoc (4.00 / 1) #9 Mon Aug 31, 2009 at 10:41:20 AM EST
The twitter graph could be a wobble. It looks too early to tell. The nature of the thing seems to make it a bit more dependent on current events. (Twitter from Iraq, &c.)

It's interesting that Facebook dips every Christmas.
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[ Parent ]
college kids with less access/interest at home by garlic (4.00 / 1) #12 Mon Aug 31, 2009 at 12:55:26 PM EST


[ Parent ]
That's not "peaked" by ucblockhead (4.00 / 1) #10 Mon Aug 31, 2009 at 11:08:06 AM EST
Peaked doesn't mean no one new will now join.  Peaked means that the number of new users equals the number giving the service up.
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[ucblockhead is] useless and subhuman
[ Parent ]
People grow up. by Tonatiuh (4.00 / 1) #17 Mon Aug 31, 2009 at 05:09:38 PM EST
Lots of children that have never heard of Facebook, Myspace, Twitter or even Yahoo or Google join the internet at some point.

Those are the eyeballs companies are fighting for.


[ Parent ]
Social networking by TheophileEscargot (4.00 / 1) #21 Tue Sep 01, 2009 at 12:57:25 AM EST
Depends on having other people you know using the social network. If a child grows up, and none of his friends are on Facebook, there's no point him joining it.

The child growing up is going to join whatever networks his older friends and relatives are using. He's not going to get nagged into joining Yahoo Connections when none of his friends use it.
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It is unlikely that the good of a snail should reside in its shell: so is it likely that the good of a man should?

[ Parent ]
iphone vs android by Merekat (4.00 / 2) #4 Mon Aug 31, 2009 at 07:46:15 AM EST
But but but $big_tech_co must always fight $big_tech_co for the same customers, otherwise lazy headline writers are out of a job.


The only reason I'm on Facebook by wiredog (4.00 / 1) #5 Mon Aug 31, 2009 at 08:11:20 AM EST
Several friends I grew up with in the 70's and 80's keep in touch that way. So I check it twice a day, for 5 minutes or less.

Earth First!
(We can strip mine the rest later.)

(Comment Deleted) by xth (4.00 / 2) #6 Mon Aug 31, 2009 at 09:33:22 AM EST

This comment has been deleted by xth



[ Parent ]
No no no! by wiredog (4.00 / 3) #7 Mon Aug 31, 2009 at 10:35:48 AM EST
Everything that's bad comes from the 70's.

Earth First!
(We can strip mine the rest later.)

[ Parent ]
Google Android by ucblockhead (4.00 / 1) #11 Mon Aug 31, 2009 at 11:13:02 AM EST
You vastly overrate Bing as a threat.

Android has little or nothing to do with Bing, or search in general.  It's about avoiding single-device locking and about entering the OS market in general.  In the next few years, you are likely to see Android on devices that are not phones.  Android is also very likely part of a long-term strategy to enter telecoms in general.  Android + Google Voice + all that dark fiber they bought up...
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[ucblockhead is] useless and subhuman

but if they aren't selling android, by garlic (4.00 / 1) #13 Mon Aug 31, 2009 at 01:28:54 PM EST
then it has to be linked to something else they're selling for them to make money. I don't believe they're charging for google voice either, but that's less clear with it still invite only.


[ Parent ]
selling by ucblockhead (4.00 / 1) #14 Mon Aug 31, 2009 at 01:45:39 PM EST
It's more about creating an overall environment where Google can make money.  The things that threaten Google's profits: Telcos/ISPs charging.  Companies like Apple or Microsoft setting standards.  Android is more of a protective move, in my mind.  It isn't so much to get their search on every phone...they already have their search on every iPhone.  It's more about keeping the iPhone from becoming dominant enough that it can switch search without it being a competitive disadvantage.

It's also important to realize that because Google is very much operating in the open-source world, the cost for creating something like Android is no where near what the cost for competitors like Windows Mobile, iPhone, Palm, etc. required.  For a company with the cash of Google, Android development comes out of petty cash.
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[ucblockhead is] useless and subhuman

[ Parent ]
Typing this on my G1 by TheophileEscargot (2.00 / 0) #15 Mon Aug 31, 2009 at 01:53:02 PM EST
The thing about Android is that it's cleverly integrated with Google's services. Gmail client is built in, contacts integrate with Google, Goorgle Reader works dynamically in the browser, there's a Google search box on the default background.

It's all about tying you in to their services. They're never going to try to charge money for an OS.
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It is unlikely that the good of a snail should reside in its shell: so is it likely that the good of a man should?

[ Parent ]
tied into their FREE services by garlic (4.00 / 1) #16 Mon Aug 31, 2009 at 02:01:01 PM EST
sometimes or always supported by ads. The price is right if you don't mind the ads.


[ Parent ]
Well yeah by ucblockhead (4.00 / 1) #19 Mon Aug 31, 2009 at 07:41:15 PM EST
But half those services are default on the iPhone already.  Most of the iPhone ads prominently feature Google products.

But more to the point: it is trivial for hardware vendors to strip all the Google apps out of Android.
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[ucblockhead is] useless and subhuman

[ Parent ]
You'd think it would be trivial by TheophileEscargot (2.00 / 0) #20 Tue Sep 01, 2009 at 12:51:41 AM EST
But if you've actually tried using smartphones in the last few years, the built-in applications have been so abysmally designed as to to be effectively useless.

The reason Apple were able to get into the smartphone business in the first place was that there was an utter market failure in providing workable phone software.

So, stripping the Google apps out of android and having a usable smartphone left afterwards might seem to be trivial, but so far the phone companies have found it impossible.

Having Google apps on the Iphone doesn't help Google much in its eyeball-gathering, because Apple's only interested in the premium end of the market. That was the main point of my post.
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It is unlikely that the good of a snail should reside in its shell: so is it likely that the good of a man should?

[ Parent ]
A couple things by ucblockhead (2.00 / 0) #24 Tue Sep 01, 2009 at 10:59:48 AM EST
I am saying it would be technically easy to strip the Google apps...from a business standpoint, it would be stupid.  But it's not the cellphone drawing people to the apps for Google.  It's the apps drawing people to the cellphone.

But again, there's lots of movement on Android outside the cellphone world, some of it on platforms where "maps" and "search" make no sense.  Like GoogleDocs, it's more about platform.
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[ucblockhead is] useless and subhuman

[ Parent ]
google motivations by clover kicker (4.00 / 1) #18 Mon Aug 31, 2009 at 07:17:49 PM EST

Android is more of a protective move, in my mind

The other day Slashdot had an article about Google releasing an emulation layer enabling Canvas for IE.

Why bother? Anything that makes cross-platform development easier == kick in the balls for Silverlight, and every other single-vendor-lockin-bullshit-du-jour.

[ Parent ]
ARRRRRRRMADILLOOOO!!! by Breaker (2.00 / 0) #22 Tue Sep 01, 2009 at 05:19:41 AM EST
Sorry about that!


Translated by gazbo (2.00 / 0) #23 Tue Sep 01, 2009 at 06:01:37 AM EST
But even if some people took consumer goods, Solnit offers the best riposte I've encountered: "Who cares if electronics are moving around without benefit of purchase when children's corpses are floating in filthy water and stranded grandmothers are dying of heat and dehydration?"

Translation:

Apart from essential food and water, nobody looted shops.  Except for when they did, but LOOK AT THE BIRDIE!

I have no idea what the rest of the book is like, but if that's being heralded as "...the best riposte I've encountered" then I'm expecting a book of ad hominem, cherry-picked facts and feelgood anecdote.

And for my next trick, I'll critique a book based solely on the first word of its title.


I recommend always assuming 7th normal form where items in a text column are not allowed to rhyme.

Well by ucblockhead (2.00 / 0) #25 Tue Sep 01, 2009 at 11:05:26 AM EST
I haven't read the book, and don't intend to, but it is important to distinguish between helping your neighbor and stealing from an impersonal corporation.  Psychologically, they are very different.  The way humans are wired, they have an easy time doing shitty things long distance but tend to be good to strangers in their immediate location.  (On average, of course.)
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[ucblockhead is] useless and subhuman
[ Parent ]
Crunchy on the outside, smooth on the inside | 25 comments (25 topical, 0 hidden)