Product Fascism

Following on from my previous post......I am utterly sick of this product fascism that pervades the interweb.
There are two stinking beacons of this, both directed at Microsoft Inc of Redmond. The first is the Apple vs Microsoft thing and the second is the Sony vs Microsoft thing.
Why do Apple and the owners of their products feel the need to constantly belittle and berate the owners of competing products (or even non competing products)? The Apple fascista often get confused though, and direct their ire towards companies like Dell, Acer or Asus - presumably for associating with the arch foe - Microsoft...sorry "Micro$oft" (ho-ho).
The same is true of PS3 owners, though I would imagine that many of the people buying PS3s are the same people buying Macs - given that very few Macintosh owners could countenance owning a product made by The Great Satan. Having said that, Mac owners probably lean more towards the Nintendo WII - given that it shares a similar design philosophy to the products of Apple.
I am sure that the same kind of arguments ensue over every other consumer durable from cars to fridges. In fact, I know that it applies to cars because I read Jeremy Clarkson's car reviews at Times Online. Jeremy will review, for example, a Lotus Elise, or something. It is guaranteed that somewhere in the comments, some Mac owning, Roger Irrelevant will say something like "What you really need, Jeremy..." (as if he reads the comments, or listens to the advice of these twats)..."is a Mercedes S Class Kompressor. I am on my 7th and it is extremely reliable, can carry 9 children and I regularly get 143 MPG on the school run".
The only conclusions that I can draw from this is that the people who have bought the more expensive products either:
  • Don't truly believe in them and need to constantly justify the outlay for their own benefit
  • Are mentally challenged to the point of being unable to buy something based on rationality
  • Actually believe the advertising (same as previous point, mentally weak).
I may post later to explain why your Apple product, made in China, with a chipset from Intel, is not technically superior, or more reliable than a Dell product, made in China, with a chipset from Intel, just because it has been put in a white plastic case.


The Brand New Xbox!

Well, it's new to me, anyway. If you read some of the other entries here, you will see that I revel in being behind the times. Given that I have just bought an Xbox 360, we can safely assume that it is now obsolete or, at least, about to become obsolete.
I have only ever owned one games console before - something called an Amiga CD32, or something like that. And I only ever had two games for it - one of which was a bit like "Fantastic Journey", flying through human veins, and shooting things - the other was a lovely pinball game.
It would be almost true to say that I hate playing video games. This is not due to me assuming some moral high ground over the gaming community - it is simply that I am utterly useless at them.
Anyway, I had a change of heart when I went on a booze cruise to Denmark, the other week. Part of the on-board entertainment was something called "Sega Rally". Now I love driving, riding and flying things - and this game, with its force feedback controls, was truly enjoyable. So, when I came back, I did a bit of investigation and concluded that I could have a similar experience (without a big pile of 10Kr coins) from an XBox with the lovely Microsoft force feedback steering wheel. I also bought a game called Project Gotham Racing 4 (PGR4) because it was cheap (240Kr) and the picture on the cover looked quite nice.
Now, I know I am behind the times, and all, but I have to say that I was utterly "blown away", as they probably don't say on the street anymore. How have I managed to miss this? At some stage, the games have become as realistic as movies, fantastic graphics, sound and game play.
So I played it for about 2 days solid, then had to go back home (my other home) to Mrs Slagg's open arms. Now I'm going through cold turkey, itching for Wednesday, when I'll have a couple of days back at my (other) other house and more driving fun.
In an effort to satisfy my PGR4 itch, I was reading Internet reviews and (old) previews of the game. All well and good until I got to the comments section "ps3 rapez xbox ass with gT5" "xbox has the wurst fukkin grafix and U kno it". Oh dear....console wars.....having spent all of my life avoiding products made by Apple (because of their fascist beardy fan boys) I suddenly realised that, by purchasing a games console, I may have joined another bunch of fucking morons. Then, I remembered, - XBox is made by Microsoft ("M$", ho ho ho), is considerably cheaper than the PS3 and thus unlikely to be purchased by anyone remotely fashionable.
Close call.


Crashing Bore

An Air France aircraft has recently crashed in the Atlantic and, while the victim's relatives try to come to terms with the tragedy, they will almost certainly learn nothing from the (UK) media.
Is there something about being a journalist which prevents even a basic understanding of the laws of aerodynamics, engineering or....just about anything?
This particular crash was well out of sight of any eye witnesses, and we can be thankful for that because it means that we are spared the inevitable stories of the "hero pilot" fighting the controls, not to save himself, or his passengers - but to steer the stricken craft away from a school.
A couple of things are certain in air crashes overland - aircraft are magnetically drawn towards schools and, irrespective of what has caused the accident, there is always just enough freedom of control available to the pilot to steer the aircraft away from those pesky children. Oh...and there is always an eyewitness with such phenomenal eyesight that he can somehow see (through aluminium) the pilot "wrestling" with the controls.
It is always enlightening to read the NTSB or AAIB accident reports because they often record these eyewitness statements and the fact is that two eyewitness to a crash can, and will, give completely opposing accounts of what happened. Later when the facts emerge, many of those witness accounts turn out to be utter bollocks.
In fact when you read the quotes from these witnesses, they are full of the uninformed hyperbole of a typical air crash report in The Sun or The Times. I think that the media inadvertently brain wash the public into reacting in certain way to certain events and the man in the street (or near the school) dutifully spouts his tabloid friendly description of events "The engines stalled..." etc. Talking of which, every journalist should be made to take an examination to show that they understand what an aerodynamic stall is and why that is nothing to do with the engines.
In the case of the Air France accident, about the only thing anyone has to go on is the automatic status reports from the aircraft. Unfortunately it is all a bit complicated for a pissed up journo to understand but there is enough there for some fantastically wild and uninformed speculation. Of course, Airbus aircraft have fly by wire, controlled by evil computers, rather than "hero" pilots - so the passengers were doomed anyway. The millions of safe flight hours in the A330 are instantly forgotten and, suddenly, it turns out that flying in an A330 is about as safe as flying the Icarus way, on an exceptionally sunny day.
An then, being the Internet age, we have the comments section. Inevitably the comments fall into two unevenly divided categories - incredibly stupid, and stupid. Usually split about 90-10 in favour of the incredibly stupid. As this was an Airbus, there have been a large number of comments from Yanks (usually in Seattle) proclaiming that this would have never happened to a Boeing, due to superior "strength", "traditional" engineering etc. Given that there have been one or two accidents to Boeing aircraft over the years, and that both makes of aircraft are certified by the same authorities to the same set of standards, I think that we can put those comments in the former category.
Then there are the armchair technical experts - I saw a comment from a bloke with an authoritarian tone who informed us that "big aircraft can't glide". His conclusion was that the engines had stopped, therefore pitching the aircraft into an uncontrollable dive. Really? So a big aircraft flies using different laws of physics to all other fixed wing aircraft? A quick look on Google for the glide ratio of the A330 reveals the following (after a total power loss due to fuel exhaustion) "The A330 referenced below went from 34500 and 85nm out to 13000 feet and 8nm out from Lajes. So 90 statue miles dropping 21500 feet or a glide ratio of 22:1 ..." Flying 22 metres for 1 metre loss of altitude doesn't exactly sound like a screaming death dive to me, mate.
The really frightening thing for me is not flying, it is the knowledge that, statistically, no matter where I sit, I am likely to be surrounded by complete fucking morons.


Idiot Toys = Extra-Last

I've been in mourning for the last few days, commiserating the death of my favourite website - Idiot Toys. 
Idiot Toys has always been the first port of call for technology professionals requiring the latest, incisive, breaking news from the industry. Unfortunately, it seems that Shiny Media may no longer require the services of the brilliant Gary Cutlack, so IT is effectively consigned to history.
However, great news this morning - Gary is back, with a new Hard-Fact-Vehicle (HFV) - Extra-Last.  And it was off to a cracking start with a brilliant post about an automatic-tit-milking-bra for busy professional mothers.
Well done Gary, and welcome back!