Back to The …er..What?

Fifty years ago we were encouraged to imagine the future. The Vietnam war was at its height, but my generation appeared to be fighting back. “Give peace a chance!” was apparently all we were saying. My generation was not going to repeat the mistakes of the “Squares” who ran “the Establishment” that had no idea that we were entering an era when love would steer the stars, with harmony, understanding and love abounding.

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By now I’d imagined life would be a lot like what was envisaged in Back to the Future, part 2. When I last checked, Toyota’s maintenance schedule for my Corolla doesn’t yet include a hover conversion. *Sigh*

In 1969 my Year 8 (Form 2 back then) class were asked to envisage life in the twenty-first century. Surprisingly, my classmates and I got a lot of things right, but like Marty and the Doc, our visions  have been shattered in many ways.

As a 12-year old, I was sure that the anti-war movement would gain momentum. All those protestors putting flowers in the guns of the National Guard would surely ensure a peaceful tomorrow! As an avid follower of The Jetsons, I envisaged a workday of pushing a button and rushing home after a solid 3-4 hours to a four-day weekend.

Sadly, we baby-boomers turned out to be as square as our post-war “establishment” parents, and our dreams remained just that. As a 12-year-old, I envisaged a life of peaceful coexistence with our fellow man, and a care-free world where technology released us to do what really mattered. Like Captain Kirk, I was sure that war, hunger and poverty would be distant memories.

We dreamed of three-four day weekends, and going to work and letting technology take the drudgery out of our labours. Everyone would be well-off, well educated and employed gainfully.

As I thought of the technological gains of the past decade or two, I realised that nothing has substantially changed for the better. If anything, technolgy keeps us chained to our work-desks long after home-time.   The worker of the twenty-first century still celebrates Labour Day once a year, but that celebration of the 40 hour working week is more of a joke today.

Real wealth has been concentrated in the pocket books of an elite few who control an ever-increasing proportion of the world’s cash. The “middle-class” of our youth is fast vanishing, replaced by the Orwellian Proles, fed a diet of cheap entertainment and fast food. Earlier today I heard the new presidential press secretary lecturing the press corps. It sounded more like a bulletin that would have made Goebells proud. The press will now tell the truth according to us, or there will be consequences. A press secretary who obviously has a good grasp of how the Ministry of Thought should operate. I’ll give Mr Orwell the final say.

“ALL ANIMALS ARE EQUAL / BUT SOME ANIMALS ARE MORE EQUAL THAN OTHERS.”

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What are computer manufacturers playing at?

In the mad race to make each successive generation of laptop lighter, thinner and faster, we are ending up with the need to invest in a range of peripherals to keep the same level of functionality.

Already my desk is awash with USB hubs, DVD Reader/Writers and external hard drives. So, woohoo; the latest iteration of the MacBook is only 1.38kgs. Whoopdy do. What a pity that the peripherals I have to lug around weigh a whole lot more.

The choices facing the computer buyer of today are horrendous. What on earth do you choose? I can guarantee that the salespeople are highly unlikely to recommend the cheapest product, even if it will fill all your needs. Experience tells me they just don’t work that way.

Yesterday I read two articles by two different publications saying basically the same thing. With the amount of choices facing today’s consumer, the aim is no longer to maintain profitability by selling bulk numbers of product. It’s to make each product you sell horrendously (for the purchaser) profitable.

In 2011 I experienced this when I added a few features to the laptop I wanted. I watched the price balloon out to over $5000 because I wanted a larger hard drive and more RAM.  It’s still a great laptop, but I updated in 2014 and paid only $3 400 for a superior version! If I was to go out and buy a new one today, I’d be forking out $4 300.

I’ve been interested to read the attacks launched by the old and tired anti-Apple brigade. One reviewer sneered that he couldn’t tell the difference between models over the past four to five years. If it had been me writing that review, I’d have added that it was equally difficult to tell the difference between many other products unless you read the stickers festooned inside the covers, usually to the side of the track-pad. Until then you can’t tell whether your CPU is an AMD, Celeron or Intel.

Cosmetics are all well and good. MacBook lovers enjoy the feel of steel or brushed aluminium. Spectre lovers apparently like good fashion. Chromebook lovers, I guess, don’t really care, because  some of the garish offerings there would make those with delicate dispositions swoon, faint or puke. I’m not even going to get started on the pull-apart offerings. I recently reviewed some that were designed to function alongside their ultra-book cousins, while others clang and clunk along and appear to have been manufactured late on a Friday after drinkies.

Caveat emptor, so said the great Plato, or was it Goscinny and Uderzo: I forget. If you are in the market, make sure you look at functionality and not just how sexy that laptop would look on your desk. If like me you run the risk of leaving a trail of peripherals behind you whereever you go, examine the ports and count them!

MagBytes 80 is here: new Macs! + news, tips, tricks — Mac NZ

On day late, but hey, I had to wait to get the skinny on the new MacBook Pros! Here they are, with NZ prices, plus news, updates, tips, tricks and new software. Here it is at right —> MagBytes issue 80 oct 2016 It looks like this:

via MagBytes 80 is here: new Macs! + news, tips, tricks — Mac NZ

It may be bathetic but it’s the truth!

Douglas Adams hailed as a prophet who unintentionally unlocked the secrets of the universe.894808

Scientists discover the answer to life, the universe and everything really.

The story initially broke in 1996 as Cambridge scientists choked on their cups of tea. Working feverishly for somewhat less time than Deep Thought took, they’d finally cracked the code, and the word was out. The answer to life, the universe… everything really, actually turns out to be …. 101010! Yes, this number decided to go incognito wearing binary code, but any HHGTTG fan automatically reads it in it’s pure bathetic form. Yes, the number you wouldn’t be afraid to introduce to mum and dad turns out to be the Hubble Constant.

To really understand the significance of this breakthrough, we need to travel back to the start of it all, some 15 billion years ago. Yes, that original universal orgy that make Playboy mansion parties appear pedestrian, the Big Bang. This event was so X-Rated that we can only take up the story some 300 000 years after the BB. Suffice to say however, that ever since this initial “Let’s get this universe thing really happening” event, the universe has continued to expand at a constant rate, more or less. The rate at which this happens is called the Hubble Constant. No-one has really examined just how constant he was, but seeing as how he spent most of his nights star-gazing, I’m guessing he was a pretty solid dude. Edwin Hubble was just about ready to add milk to his tea when he noticed something funny about starlight. Fast forward to 1996 and this amazing discovery was reduced to an average constant, 42.

International Bad Poets will be rejoicing across the planet. When speaking to the Vatican’s astronomical spokesperson, who remarked prophetically that his name was not important, Fr Bart Fast responded that “St Douglas’ sanctification would be duly announced once the fuss about some Romanian called Agnes had died down.”

Stop Press!! Finally revealed! It really is 42!

Olympic Games

I suppose that for me, the highlight of the Olympic Games have been all the peripheral issues. I’m listening to a local news TV show called Story, and they’ve talked about the excrement in the water, the green dive pool, and the fact that Brazil has a major financial crisis on its hands. I’ve watched how the poor were displaced so that the Olympic Village could be built, and I’ve heard how some were forcibly removed from their homes and relocated miles away.

I also heard about the medals ceremony where the Aussie and NZ flags were mixed up. I’m just glad that it wasn’t as embarrassing as the Kazaks who had to listen to the anthem taken from “The Dictator” movie a few years ago at an athletics meet.  I heard about one female olympian abandoned by her taxi driver when she refused to give him a wad of cash. I’ve heard about the Brazillian Judoka who won gold and is the pride of her favela.

Today I finally got to see some actual sport on Prime TV. Not having Sky, I don’t have access to the multitude of channels on pay TV and don’t have the time or money to spend all day in a sports bar. However, I did enjoy the cycling, but missed the gold medal ride. Washing had to be hung outside.

Like many others, I’m struggling to see how any country benefits from hosting the Olympics unless they have a truckload of surpluses already. Remember the Athens Olympics? Remember them having to go cap in hand to the EC for more bailouts? Brazil is in an even worse situation. Pollution, the fast diminishing rainforests, the political problems, crime; all these issues are not being helped by the nation hosting the games, and are making many people more than a tad uneasy.rioda-exclusao-protest-joao-velozo-1-edit_custom-0c07655871a2f26538bf1349ca18e6512d44be83-s1600-c85.jpg

 

I’ve been reading that the locals are less than impressed about their nation hosting these games, and it makes me feel a tad guilty about enjoying the small amount of action I got to see today.

Oscars leave me a grouch in ’16

Yes, well-done everyone, but I left the red carpet vaguely disappointed. And it wasn’t because I wasn’t on the list for any of the after-parties.

Was anyone else left a little flat by this year’s serving? I wanted Matt Damon to win, but that’s not what I’m on about. Why does one group of people think they deserve special treatment? Do the Oscars need to take a leaf from the Springboks and make awards based on race, rather than talent?
When I look at great dramatic performances, whether it’s Zoe Saldana in Star… Avata.. well, anything she stars in because she’s just so damned good, or Will Smith in MIB..Indep….The Pursuit of …Legend… well just about anything because like he says in one scene, “The difference is, I look good in it…” I don’t look at the colour of the skin of the actors. I look at the performance. Personally, I think the best performance I’ve seen in recent years was by Halle Berry at the Razzy’s, when she won an award for Catwoman. She was gracious and good-humoured, and totally pulled it off.  But I digress.

I can’t wait for my next must-watch, which opens later this month. I can’t wait to see how two conflicted characters will gel in their respective performances. Does Bruce Wayne have his hands on some Kryptonite? Will Lois leave her hubby to follow her heart? I’m not asking what colour the characters are going to be, because that’s shallow and oh so skin-deep.

Links to be reading

Stephanie always has some thought-provoking, paradigm-challenging content.

Teaching the Teacher

Teens and media – a common sense approach from Common Sense media.

The unexpected maths from Van Gough maths in unusual places

From knowing to empathising – @geomouldey argues it’s time to get to know your kids

Listening to and trying to understand student thinking which has been made visible – Cathy Brown demonstrates the power of visible thinking through acting and inquiring into what students think.

An awesome conference – unleashing learning – happening in just over a month.

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