Quarter Life Crisis

The world according to Sven-S. Porst

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Bread, Milk, Drugs

757 words

Hm, perhaps technology, even the crappy stuff, even when it’s stacked on top of another, isn’t too bad after all. Listening to 32Kbit/s audio in RealPlayer (one of the biggest annoyances ever, whose Plugin crashed Safari on the first try) through a Cisco VPN connection (the crappy software that forces me to restart my computer at least once a week because it simply stops working) over a WEP encrypted (i.e. so mindlessly thought out that it’s dead easy to break) wireless connection, through our Linksys router and bridge (yup, the ‘appliance’ that crashes and has to be unplugged every third time you call the its web page to check the signal strength) and the (hellishly expensive but somewhat broken) wire to the external antenna, may sound like a bit of a hassle.

But being able to listen to recent editions of the John Peel Show is worth it.

On the other hand that whole setup nearly caused a heart attack yesterday. As you can tell from the above listing, it contains a lot of potential for failure. Not only the components can (and will) randomly stop working – also the connection speed varies a lot, depending on the weather perhaps or other people using the network. And exactly that happened when I tried to buy a tumble dryer on eBay yesterday. The connection was dead slow all of a sudden – which together with the stalls I now frequently see in Safari on pages with fields to fill out made me very nervous. Thankfully our neighbours’ (unprotected) wireless network was up, so I quickly stole a bit of their bandwidth to win the auction after all. The tumble dryer will be picked up tomorrow and if our neighbours are savvy they (and perhaps anybody else who cared) know my eBay password now as that crappy site doesn’t use encrypted connections by default and I didn’t have time for the extra page load as I eventually placed the winning bid something like five seconds before the auction expired.

In the unfunny but funny department: Crank Yankers and Ali G. I really fail to see the point of the former, but can’t help finding them funny. The same holds for the latter whom I find quite annoying but equally funny. I keep thinking that his show may actually be educational in some way. And I also wonder how he gets to interview people.

Elsewhere, John Gruber writes his umpteenth piece of self-promotion in a row. Considering that his output lately consisted mostly of attempts to earn money, citing his old articles or promoting an overpriced text editor makes me less unhappy that I had lost my credit card at the time when ‘memberships’ for and – more importantly T-Shirts of his site could be bought. (While I’m not into the paid-for thing, throwing in the T-Shirt made this an acceptable offer.)

I’m not sure that I want people to switch to the Mac for the (current) lack of viri (viruses? viru?s? Argh.) on the platform. Let them rot in Windows hell I say. Our nice and clean neighbourhood may deteriorate if too many of them come over for the wrong reasons.

An article John refers to goes with the ‘Mac cult’ line again. I can’t hear that anymore. Sure, Mac people may be eager to tell people that the Aqua is bluer beyond the Windows. And they may sneer at other people’s problems, pointing out that it was their own choice (cue: Choose Life. Choose a job…) to be in that mess and that I hate to say I told you so to quote the wonderful Hives. They may also be nice and offer help. Not to fix the Windows system, of course, but to choose the right Mac (because that’s the only bit they can help with). But a cult? I don’t know. Moving people in the vicinity of religious institutions is very rude. And isn’t the key thing about cults that they want to convert people even when they’re perfectly happy with what they’ve got?

My friend Jörg just re-switched to the Mac, btw. He got a beige G3 when they were still hot. Later on he got an old Sony notebook from his sister which caused quite a bit of pain, if I understood the stories correctly. Some more RAM and OSX for the old Mac seemed more viable after a while. And now he’ll be the first person I know to have the ne G5 iMac with Bluetooth, Airport Express – everything. Nice.

Enough rambling.

September 28, 2004, 0:42


Comment by gummi: User icon

That Wi-Fi of yours, it’s real ‘seat of your pants’ type stuff, man. I’m so goddamn paranoid about my connection, I moved over to WPA, closed the network, filter by MAC address, and pipe all my email.password stuff over SSH tunnels. Although the SSH tunnel thing is really screwing things up lately, for some reason.

Anyway, I’m glad you bought up Gruber and his slow cycle into adblog mediocrity. I think those links from Slashdot, a while back, caused some odd thinking. In my mind, his site now epitomises what happens when somebody goes for sponsorship and it becomes the center of all things -oh, and Barebones stuff, even with the disclaimer; that’s a little icky.

I became a member and received a t-shirt. Now I’m considering burning the thing in a raked out Tandoori oven. Video the whole event and registering a new domain, ‘daringfireball.info’, and playing the movie there until Apple goes bust, for fun.

However, for his Markdown/Smartypants stuff, maybe he deserves a bit of time to snap back into it his groove.

September 28, 2004, 9:41

Comment by Olivier: User icon

Viruses, according to a rather convincing argument on Wikipedia.

September 28, 2004, 10:05

Comment by ssp: User icon

G: The internet connection stuff isn’t too paranoid. We’re using WEP so not anyone can snoop on our network (and infect my flatmates’ Windows computers), we have to use VPN as we get internet access straight from the university and they only do VPN.

I also happen to be using e-mail via ssh. Partly due to the paranoia that started when someone else from the same building in halls in England showed me how to snoop on the network using some Linux tool – just at the moment when my e-mail was checked and thus my password appeared on his screen. And partly for convenience, so I can use the same POP/SMTP servers regardless of my location or firewall restrictions.

I have two viable solutions for running automated ssh tunnels. The old one involves a script which was kindly contributed by a reader long ago (search ssh tunnel mail or something). I used it in combination with SSHPassKey and a patched version of ssh (which unnecessarily restrictive in one respect) but it should also work with keys. Recently I switched to another, even more elaborate setup that Steffen came up with. The gist of that is that it uses xinetd to establish the ssh connection whenever needed. But it’s a bit more tricky than that. I might post about it using the iChat protocol of Steffen’s instructions.

As for Gruber, I just figure that people’d be disappointed. I hope he’s only having some bad weeks, of course.

Olivier: Interesting. The first question seems to be whether you want to use Latin plurals. Are you saying stadiums or stadia? Mediums or media? Tricky.

Probably that’s just your a choice or a fact of common usage rather than any fixed rule. My Latin dictionary (only the one in WordLookup, though, thus not necessarily correct) says the Latin plural is viri. Btw. Virii, as the Wikipedia link is named is just silly as they point out.

September 28, 2004, 11:23

Comment by d.w.: User icon

Re wireless — looks like your countrymen are having some interesting fun in that department.

September 30, 2004, 15:17

Comment by Sam Walker: User icon

Trust me: there is definitely a cult following of the Mac. Maybe not the Mac users you related with, but just look at the message boards on a site like http://spymac.com

October 11, 2004, 4:35

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