Movie Review

Ben and I went to see The Hunger Games today.

Disclaimer: I have never read the book(s).

Overall I thought it was a good film, but the underlying story was terribly depressing. It was one of the most dystopian futures I’ve encountered in fiction, and I have no desire whatsoever to ever live in a world like that. I mean, what kind of society sacrifices its children…for entertainment?

The disparity between the haves and the have-nots seemed to spring directly from a Republican wet dream.

Josh Hutcherson does not look good as a blonde.

Thankfully it wasn’t as graphically violent as it could’ve been. Guess they need to keep that rating so they can actually get their target audience into the theater.

A film based on the second book of the trilogy is due for release in November of next year.


Quote of the Day

“You know that both Microsoft and Apple support marriage equality, right? So exactly what are you going to be typing your stupid little screeds on? I mean, I know you’ve got time on your hands, what with all the hungry fed and the sick healed and whatnot (Oh, wait, they’re not?), so maybe you could go all the way back to the Bronze Age. And stay there, you pathetic, joyless, superstitious, self-righteous, tax-evading busybodies. Me, I’m going to Starbucks, where I intend to buy a Venti, tip the staff outrageously, and send a note to management complimenting them on not caving to hateful perverts that get off on other people’s sex lives.”Doug Barr

Oh, smack!

So Maggie Gallagher, Brian Brownshirt and NOM are stomping their little cloven hooves and calling for a boycott because after ranting at Starbucks’ annual shareholders’ meeting the other day about the company supporting marriage equality, Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz basically told them to go fuck themselves.

As Doug pointed out in the quote above, if NOM (and every other hate organization) were serious about boycotting companies (and not just whoring themselves for attention) they would close their laptops, throw them in the trash, and go back to communicating via stone tablets and smoke signals. But of course that will never happen. It’s the same type of cognitive dissonance that allows them to use quotes from Leviticus to condemn gays, but conveniently ignore those regarding stoning adulterers, disobedient children and non-virgins who marry, eating shellfish and wearing clothing made of two different kinds of fibers. Because you know, those are just silly!

It’s a well-known fact that Ben and I spend way too much money at Starbucks. But we’re happy to know that hard-earned money is going to a company that stands behind all relationships, not just the ones receiving a stamp of approval from bronze age right wing religious lunatics.

There’s a “Dump Starbucks” website (I won’t to link to it) out there that now claims to have gotten 6053 pledges from folks saying they won’t set foot in Starbucks again. Wow! SIX THOUSAND FIFTY THREE.  That amounts to 0.00002% of the US population.

And Starbucks’ stock actually went up yesterday after the launch of the boycott.  Well done, NOM. Please continue your little tantrum.

Whenever I think of NOM and all the other haters out there, I envision an old man standing on a beach, shaking his fist at the approaching tidal wave of equality that is rapidly approaching.  Too stupid or stubborn to leave the beach, he will be dashed to bits as the waters rush onshore.

There's a Reason…

…I’m no longer in touch (or have any desire to reconnect) with any of my friends from high school—and it cements the decision I made a long time ago to never attend a reunion. A quick perusal on Facebook indicates that they’ve all turned into religious right-wing lunatics.

How the hell does that happen to such bright, intelligent kids, anyway?


Why does every photo organization program for the Mac suck?

I’ve been a fanboy now for almost three years, and I have yet to find a graphics program for OS X that is as functional as Cerious Software’s Thumbs Plus for Windows, something I had been using for pretty close to a decade. Once upon a time Cerious supposedly had a Mac (PowerPC) version available, but that’s long gone and nothing is available for Intel-based machines running OS X.  Since the company has only gotten around to updating their Windows version recently, I have no hope whatsoever that they’ll ever get around to writing for the Mac platform. The excuse: “ThumbsPlus contains thousands of lines of code, and we’re a small company with limited resources.” Blah, blah, blah.

That leaves me with only a few viable alternatives.

Apple provides its own native Photo organization tool, iPhoto:

The logic of how iPhoto works has eluded me until very recently. As I understand it (and please someone correct me if I’m wrong), at its core, iPhoto is basically nothing but one big database. If you choose the option to leave all your photos in their original locations on the hard drive when importing, the only thing that’s actually in that database are the thumbnails it creates of those photos and any changes you make to the photos from inside iPhoto. In other words, if you adjust color or saturation or anything else inside application, it creates a copy of the original photo inside the database (leaving the original untouched) and applies your changes to that. The only way to update the original on your hard drive is to export it from within the program and overwrite the existing file.

What a load of crap. Seriously Apple, this is the best you can do?

To iPhoto’s credit, if you don’t need direct access to your original photos or especially care where they’re actually located on your hard drive, iPhoto provides some excellent tools for grouping and organizing the photos. Unfortunately, I’m much more file-and-folder oriented (probably because of my Windows  upbringing) and despite its wonderful ability to have a single photo grouped in multiple, virtual “albums” (like having the same  picture filed in “religious absurdity” and “politics”), its way of doing things just doesn’t work for me. I’m missing something here, please enlighten me, because I really want to be able to use iPhoto.

With that being the case, for most of these past three years, in lieu of iPhoto, I’ve been using Adobe Bridge:

Bridge does most of what I need it to do and is very similar to Thumbs Plus in its layout, but it also has the annoying habit of crashing, often when doing any kind of file maintenance. Drag a photo from one folder to another? Guaranteed crash 1 out of 5 times. Adobe’s forums are full of examples of this, and their only fix is to effectively send it back to the fresh-out-of-the-box state. All well and good if you haven’t gone to all the trouble to set up which panes are displayed, thumbnail size, and file sorting preferences. It works fine for a while after doing that, but then it’s soon back to crashing. Not an acceptable answer, Adobe.

But since they aren’t even including Bridge with some of their products any longer, I have lost hope that this crashing problem will ever be addressed through a software update.

A very promising alternative I discovered a while ago was XnViewMP:

In fact, it’s about the closest thing I’ve found to Thumbs. But like all Mac photo software, there are things it just doesn’t do. You can’t drag-and drop photos from one folder to another. Seriously? You have to right-click on the thumbnail, select move and then choose a destination folder from a drop-down menu.

I want to bang my head against the desk.

Rename an image directly while in Thumbnail view?  Can’t do it.  Once again, you have to right-click and select rename.

Since XnViewMP for OS X is still in beta, I’m hoping that the author gets his shit together and adds basic, expected functionality to the program before it hits regular release because it really does show promise to finally be the Thumbs Plus replacement that myself and a lot of other people have been desperately longing for on the Mac platform.

I’ve also tried several other applications, but they were so awful they didn’t last long enough on my system for me to even remember what they were.

Computer as Appliance

When I first got into personal computers back in the late 1980s, they were still very much a niche product. For about a thousand dollars a geek could go to any of the weekend “computer fairs” that dotted the Bay Area and buy the parts to build a PC. (It wasn’t until 2004 that I actually bought my first pre-assembled computer.)  Interchangeable parts were the norm, and if you wanted to upgrade your paltry little 8088 system board to a “blindingly fast” 286, it was fairly simple (if relatively expensive).

Back in the day, system boards were larger than a sheet of paper, and individual memory chips on those boards were still the norm. There was no such thing as integrated video, parallel or serial connectors on a system board. If you wanted any of those, you had to buy separate cards. Hell, at that point there weren’t even built-in clocks! (I remember buying and installing more than one clock card over the course of assembling several PCs.) If you wanted to upgrade your RAM, you came home with a bag full of individual chips and prayed that none of them were bad, because tracking down a bad chip when you’ve just inserted 32 of the things was an absolute nightmare. (I can’t tell you how happy I was when the first SIMMs and DIMMs appeared on the scene.) And if you wanted to run AutoCAD (which I did back in the day), you needed to buy a separate math co-processor chip.

Gawd, I don’t miss those days.

Fast forward twenty-five years. Apple’s MacBook Air and iPad have shrunk system boards to an eighth the size they once were and now include video, I/O and wireless. The amount of RAM has grown exponentially, and CPUs are packing more power than ever dreamt of in 1988. The Air and iPad have no moving parts (except a CPU cooling fan in the Air) and contain nothing that is user-replaceable. Spurred in no small part by the wild success of the iPhone, the idea of computer as appliance is coming to fruition.

When I remember the sheer number of parts required to build a PC once upon a time, I am amazed when I see tear downs of the iPad and the Air (click to embiggen):

In both cases, the biggest parts of both devices are the batteries.

And even if you don’t consider them appliances, but simply as portable computers, compare them with this, the Compaq II from 1987:

My ex brought one of these home from work one evening in 1988 and we thought it was the coolest thing evah. I only wish he were still around to see how far we’ve come since then.

It all makes me wonder what the face of computing will look like in another 25 years…