personal stoopid


So, there are a bunch of dipshit Pretards on Twitter who feel the need to constantly search for any mention of the Pre and butt in regardless of how appropriate or not it might be. They also seem to be more thin-skinned than freetards, Macmacs or even Trekkies. Anyway, here’s a sad little exchange I had a little while ago. I was only inspired to do al of that copy and pasting because @vara411 had the same exchange with @bynkii tonight, and I just had to get it out there.

I should also point out that I don’t have anything against Palm or the Pre. I just happen to think that its not the right solution for me and Palm has some issues to work out both with their hardware and their OS. Oh, and I don’t give a shit what phone you use or why either.

Played with a Pre today. Slow as shit compared to the 3GS. Palm needs to get their shit together. 7:08 PM Aug 8th

@dssstrkl That’s the 1st Generation pre. It took Apple 3 generations. And yes I do own an Iphone. Switching over to a Palm Pre. 7:15 PM Aug 8th

@GuttaMoss Whatever. Apples to apples = original iphone to Treo 700. Pre has same guts as 3GS, so there’s little excuse. 8:41 PM Aug 8th

@GuttaMoss BTW, I don’t really care what you use. I only care about my experience/needs, and the Pre doesn’t do it for me. 8:42 PM Aug 8th

@dssstrkl @GuttaMoss Palm Pre is plenty fast if u multitask. But hey I understand. As an iPhone fan you wouldn’t know anything about that. 8:14 PM Aug 8th

@vara411 I multitask pretty well on an iphone. I also like being able to answer a phone call without waiting for the phone app to boot. 8:43 PM Aug 8th

@vara411 Meaningless PR terms don’t do much to sway my opinion BTW. 8:44 PM Aug 8th

@dssstrkl Let me guess?….your needs are for more useless apps (iBeer) rights? Palm Pre and it’s WebOS is light years ahead of iphone’s. 10:01 PM Aug 8th

@GuttaMoss What’s with the assumption that I even downloaded shit like that? Light years? Really? Care to elaborate? 10:08 PM Aug 8th

@GuttaMoss Seems to me that Palm seriously needs to work on their optimization. I can move between apps pretty quickly on a 3GS, but just… 10:08 PM Aug 8th

@GuttaMoss loading anything on the Pre takes forever. Maybe because I don’t waste time on Facebook and IM. 10:08 PM Aug 8th

@dssstrkl You know what the competition between the two is great for us consumers. 10:03 PM Aug 8th

@GuttaMoss I like competition. Palm has some good ideas. I just think their implementation needs a lot of work. 10:08 PM Aug 8th

@GuttaMoss Hence, “they need to get their shit together.” 10:09 PM Aug 8th

@dssstrkl I’m sorry “meaningless PR terms?” What exactly are you getting at? 9:23 AM Aug 9th

@vara411 Do you even know what the word multitask means? Go look it up and tell me how you used it incorrectly. 9:47 AM Aug 9th

@vara411 Then think about how you wanted to use it (ie using more than one app simultaneously in userland) and explain exactly how one does 9:47 AM Aug 9th

@vara411 that one the Pre. Seems to me like you use 1 app, then go use another. Again, meaningless PR BS. 9:47 AM Aug 9th

@dssstrkl Wrong again but I forgive u. GPS nav + Pandora + txt + Twitter + multiple emails… simultaneously. THAT’S Palm Pre multitasking. 10:30 AM Aug 9th

@vara411 BWAHAHAHA! Really? You can do all that at the same time? When I tried, I had to move from one app to another since you can only 10:41 AM Aug 9th

@vara411 interact w/ 1 app at a time. Hope you’re not texting while driving! BTW, you clearly still don’t know what multitasking means! 10:41 AM Aug 9th

@vara411 Also, why are you even engaging? I still don’t give a shit what phone you use or why. 10:41 AM Aug 9th

@vara411 Ah, 4451 tweets since 5/1? All about Pre? You’re clearly a Palm plant. You should ask @chuq how to evangelize w/o being a dick. 11:07 AM Aug 9th

@vara411 Don’t bother answering. I’m clearly not going to have an interesting convo w/ a marketing drone. 11:07 AM Aug 9th

@dssstrkl LOL suit urself. Yeah I’m a fanboy but no employee. Honored you’d look me up like that tho. Just remember who’s being a jerk, here 11:29 AM Aug 9th

@vara411 Don’t be too honored, it took about a minute, drone. You started this, so the jerk would be you. Look up multitasking yet, drone? 11:44 AM Aug 9th

@dssstrkl I’m “engaging” b/c ur obviously a jaded, angry little iSheep who likes to rant but then gets all defensive when someone answers. 11:43 AM Aug 9th

@vara411 iSheep? LOL, that worked out pretty well for Sandisk, didn’t it? 🙂 Jaded & angry? Wow, does the Pre come with a psychology app? 11:59 AM Aug 9th

@vara411 You’re clearly engaging because you’re a marketing drone. Your twitter account is 100% Pre and you’re a dick to people who disagree 11:59 AM Aug 9th

@vara411 with you. Again: I DON’T GIVE A SHIT WHAT YOU USE. I’m not you and the Pre doesn’t work for me. The Pre has some serious flaws that 11:59 AM Aug 9th

@vara411 need to get ironed out, primarily that apps boot REALLY slow and the hardware feels cheap. Smartphones don’t live in some zero-sum 11:59 AM Aug 9th

@vara411 game that one needs to lose for the other to survive. Even if you’re some psychotic fanboy jizzing over his gadget, you should 12:00 PM Aug 9th

@vara411 recognize that other people have legitimate reasons for choosing something other than what you have. But resorting to name calling 12:00 PM Aug 9th

@vara411 in the absence of any actual or reasoned argument is just sad. Your inability to use a dictionary & resorting to calling me an 12:00 PM Aug 9th

@vara411 Apple fanboy indicates that you have no actual points of comparison between the iphone or pre and that you have no idea what you’re 12:00 PM Aug 9th

@vara411 talking about. Grow up and look up multitasking. 12:00 PM Aug 9th

@dssstrkl Hey douchebag I just read ur conv w @vara411. U talked shit abt da Pre, he called u on it and now ur running ur fukkin mouth STFU! 12:07 PM Aug 9th

@dssstrkl I turned in my iPhone 3GS for a Palm Pre and have no regrets. Mostly hated AT&T. Wat, u gonna talk shit to me too? Go fuk urself 12:08 PM Aug 9th

@danmiam No, but I will block you for being boring. 12:25 PM Aug 9th

@dssstrkl That’s what I thought ass wipe 12:30 PM Aug 9th (After I blocked him. This guy says he’s a med student. Right.)

@dssstrkl I do in fact have point of comparison. Owned the original iphone for 1.5 yrs. Palm Pre suits my needs better. 12:10 PM Aug 9th

@vara411 Sorry, I just don’t believe you. Know what multitasking means yet? 12:26 PM Aug 9th

@dssstrkl Cracks me up that an iPhone fanboy like yourself would dictate to me what multitasking is. Run along, iSheep. We’re done talking. 12:34 PM Aug 9th

@vara411 Thats rich, calling me a fanboy. All I did was point out that you don’t know what the word multitasking means. 12:37 PM Aug 9th

@vara411 Not my problem if you’re not too proficient in English. 12:38 PM Aug 9th

@vara411 Also, learn the diff between fanboys like yourself and people who hold other opinions & have diff needs. 12:38 PM Aug 9th

So if any other Pretards feel like butting in, I still don’t give a shit which phone you use or why. Get over it. 12:52 PM Aug 9th

People who go around advocating shit really need to learn how approach others. Its not like acting like a douchebag and telling me how I’m doing shit wrong is going to win me to your side or anything. On what planet does contacting random people to tell them that their life choices (really, since these clowns live and breathe the Pre) are ugly and wrong, but then get all pissy when people respond in a way other slavish agreement or fellatio. There are few things in this world lamer than fanboys, and this is just another example of that.

personal politics science stoopid

Invading Ideas

When I was going through my Twitter feed this morning, i happened across this: Extinction & invasive species are PART of nature. Things change. Why r we obsessed with freezing current ecology? and this: “Survival of the Fittest” means that, unfortunately, that some of our favorites will be pushed out. It’s not “Survival of the Cutest.” and this: Every species u see now pushed another species out. And those pushed out the ones before them. No such thing as “original” or “native.”

I responded with some rather insultingly rude comments @scottsigler Natural invasions occur at a fraction of the rate of human caused invasions. Its not freezing ecology, its protecting diversity and @scottsigler You seriously need to bone up on your populations genetics. The shit you said was stupid. As is laughably incorrect. Its rather hypocritical of me to call someone else out for saying talking shit without backing up my own. Invasive species occur all over the planet, in all manner of ecosystems. My experience, as well as the article in question, is mainly marine, so most of my examples will be as well.

The problem is not so much with the assertion that natural invasions don’t happen, or that extinction isn’t a part of life. Its with the complete disregard for the very real damage that invasions do to local and regional ecologies and the disregard for the differences in the rate between natural invasions and those caused by human activity. I’m going to consider the kelp species mentioned in the article. Assuming that no one reading this has ever seen a giant kelp species in the flesh or know anything about their life cycle, it goes something like this. Kelp, as an algae, reproduces via sporulation. Unlike plants, which have tissues analogous to animals, all kelp cells are effectively the same and all produce spores. I have personally forced kelp to sporulate in the lab and collected from seven blades, enough spores to change the consistency of 1L of seawater into something more like syrup. That’s a concentration high enough that it needs to go through several dilutions in order to be at a low enough concentration to be useful for the experiment we were conducting, about 1E12 spores/mL. If I can generate that many spores from seven blades in 20 minutes, imagine how many spores an entire kelp forest releases during a season.


Kelp spores


Sand dollar larvae. Most broadcast spawners have larvae about this size.

Now consider how tiny kelp spores are, at the micrometer scale. In order for a Japanese kelp to invade California, especially to the point where it can out-compete native species, these spores must cross the Pacific Ocean by riding natural currents, which run through the Arctic Circle and then down the California coast with the cold California current. Any such invasion would likely start north and work its way south, with the currents. Now consider, instead of some space spores managing to survive that trip, a container ship sitting in a Japanese port. Well, it doesn’t just sit there. As containers are being loaded, the ship is loading its ballast tanks with a few hundred tons of coastal seawater, which is filled with not only kelp spores, but a host of other algae species, fish, crab, mollusk and echinoderm larvae. This ship will then cross the Pacific in the best time possible. These ships are required by US maritime law to stop mid-ocean and cycle their ballast tanks, but rarely do, as the fines for failure to comply with the law are less than the cost of stopping. Thus, when the ship reaches port its ballast tanks will be full of all sorts of foreign beasties who are ready and often at the perfect stage in their life cycle to colonize.

This can be problematic for local ecosystems, especially when low level members of the food chain get out-competed by invaders. Not only can food stocks radically change, but things like seagrass height can prevent birds from nesting, an invading clam that reaches the adult stage a week before native species and consumes resources, a marauding crab that rampages through the tidal zone, and on and on. I can also safely assume that no one reading this has ever inspected a cargo ship’s ballast tanks, or even boarded or been close to one. You really have to personally experience it to internalize the scale.

Besides the havoc that such invaders can wreak on native ecosystems, but they can cause massive economic devastation as well. Fisheries can be wiped out, mussels can clog outflow pipes of power plants, clams can bore into mudflats and massively increase erosion, threatening all sorts of human communities and commercial facilities.

As for the Survival of the Fittest comment, that’s social Darwinist bullshit. That’s not a scientific concept or something that’s ever brought up in scientific literature. Natural selection is cruel and impartial, but works on populations in entire ecosystems. It also works at a particular rate, usually called evolutionary time (like how geological processes function at geological time). That’s kind of why they’re called ecosystems, since they are functional systems. If you start introducing massive disruptions into any system, it will collapse. That’s not natural selection, any more than climate change is a natural process. The fact is that there was no massive invasive species problem before the advent of fast trans-oceanic shipping. The only major cause of species invasion before that was deliberate human introductions. Unless anyone thinks that rabbits just happened to pop up out of nowhere in the Australian outback. Or that most of the lust Hawaiian vegetation that we all like is invasive, and happened to show up after European colonists showed up (which was after Polynesian colonists showed up). I could go on, but the fact is that natural invasions are so rare and mild that they can be absorbed by the ecosystem with minimal disruption.

Next, there’s this comment: Every species u see now pushed another species out. And those pushed out the ones before them. No such thing as “original” or “native.”Wrong. There are plenty of examples of empty niches being filled in by opportunistic species. Classic example: early mammals didn’t exactly wipe out the dinosaurs by themselves, now did they? I don’t know what Scott meant by original, since that’s not a word we use in the context that he was using. There is, however, such a thing as a native species. What constitutes a native species is even defined scientifically. All one has to do is look it up.

@pcharing there is no “permanently disasterous” in nature. One species’ apocolypse is another’s gateway to dominance of the open niche.I think the dinosaurs and trilobites would disagree with you. An apocalypse tends to effect more than one species at a time, and extinction, at least in nature, doesn’t just happen. Again, we’re dealing with systems with lots and lots of interdependencies. For example, it would really suck for us if phytoplankton stopped fixing nitrogen and the atmosphere turned into poison.

@niltiac afraid that isn’t true, as proven by the FIVE mass extinctions in Earth’s history. 5, yet life flourishes, including all u see now.Life that tended to be quite dissimilar to that which preceded it. Sure, it all has DNA, but the first life forms in this planet (who dominated far longer than any eukaryote) thrived in what was an alien planet with a toxic atmosphere. Its lucky for us that they fouled their nest by filling the atmosphere with a toxic, caustic gas that eventually drove them off the face of the Earth. Sounds familiar, yes? Except oxygen gas, at atmospheric pressure, isn’t toxic to life forms like us. What makes you think that we could survive the next mass extinction? Maybe we should be less blasé about it.

@j0ni “balance” is a myth. Extinction is the rule. There was no balance before us, there us none now. Equilibriums are temporary in nature.Yes, there is no such thing as a perfect equilibrium in nature, and yes, its a model. Yes, given enough time, everything is temporary, even the universe. But, statistically, its an accurate model that predicts how ecosystems function. If you’re going to dismiss an accepted biological model with decades of support, please offer some evidence to back up your claims. Creationism is a myth, equilibrium is science. The difference? One is supported by observation, correct predictions, and cold, hard math, the other, not so much.

@CJWellman Most “native” Galapaos species are “invasive” from long B4 man arrived. Native state is barren. When did “native state” start?Its hardly invasive to colonize a barren rock with lots of empty niches. If you don’t think there’s a difference, go ask an indigenous person, anywhere in the world, what he thinks of being colonized, then go ask a Martian what he thinks of us sending all those probes and planning to colonize Mars. Oh, wait, there’s no life on Mars. There’s no indigenous life to get pushed out. When did the native state start? When life started growing there are formed an ecosystem. Barren is the state of there being no life, no ecosystem. Native state requires life.

@j0ni “Fatalism?” Please. Life goes on. Just not this snapshot of life. Good luck stopping time, nature and evolution.Look at Mars. The conditions for life existed there once, but no longer. Think that can’t happen here? Besides, there’s no such thing as a snapshot of life. Life is always in motion, always evolving, us included.

@DomonicMongello so if species arrives on Galapagos from wind or ocean currents, that’s okay, but on ship (from man), that’s not?Again, its a matter of scale and time. You can’t honestly compare wind-borne seeds landing on islands to the Dutch bringing coffee to Java. If you really don’t understand the difference between the mechanisms, then there’s not much I can say to convince you otherwise.

@j0ni show me one example of equilibrium, “balance,” that did not replace a previous state of “balance.” Ergo, balance is temporary at best.
@j0ni no straw man. U say “balance” is observable phenomenon. I ask for permanent example in nature of your statement. Do u have one?
There’s no such thing as a permanent ecosystem. Anyone who would suggest such a thing is ignorant of how they work. However, that doesn’t mean that equilibrium doesn’t exist, or that ecosystems can’t persist for periods of time longer than the existence of human civilization.

All ecosystems function in a state of equilibrium, or else they collapse, extinctions occur, opportunists move in, and a new equilibrium is formed. Equilibrium in environmental biology is not some biblical harmony. All it means is that conditions are stable enough for biological niches to be filled, allowing the native organisms to go through their life cycles. Every single organism depends on a stable and functional ecosystem in equilibrium to thrive. That includes us. We require far more equilibrium and stability than most species. Our food supply is dangerously homogenous, depending on only a few species for our staples. Imagine a virus that attacks grain spreading around the planet, wiping out wheat, rice and corn. Think about just how tenuous our food supply really is, especially when you also consider the havoc that we’re wreaking on the atmosphere, the water supply, the soil. Look at the food you have in your house, think about where it came from, and then tell me, with a straight face, that equilibrium isn’t real or that its doesn’t matter.

Scott challenged me to point out what was laughably incorrect. At the very least, the vast difference between natural aquatic invasions and ballast tank discharge fits the bill. I could stand to be more polite in the future, but I can’t make any promises.

politics stoopid

Claim Chowder Bobby Jindal Style

Remember back when Bobby Jindal gave his ever so stupid and out of touch response to Barack Obama’s state of the economy speech? Remember how flabbergasted everyone was when he singled out volcano monitoring as a waste of government funding, especially considering how his state still hadn’t recovered from Hurricane Katrina yet? Well, it should go without saying that volcanos tend to violently erupt and wipe out all life for miles around, but in case any morons still think its a waste, this just came through my RSS:

Alert level raised for Alaska volcano

I think Palin and Jindal should go discuss whose natural disasters are more worthy of attention. Fucking Republicans.

iPhone stoopid

Wither iPhone OS 3?

OK, so Apple’s going to lift its skirt on Tuesday and show us all what its been working on since last year. For most people, this is basically non-news. The chance of Apple releasing anything that you can buy or even use outside of a development environment is basically zero. For me, as a daily and enthusiastic user (and wannabe developer), this announcement will provide me with endless drool-worthiness that will consume my every waking thought until I can get my grubby hands on new hardware come June.

Or something like that…

In all seriousness, this event is interesting simply because we’ll get to see where the iPhone is headed for the future (or next year or so, until Apple changes again). While that’s all well and good, but the real fun is with the fact-free speculation! I am clearly not above, as might be inferred by my woefully inaccurate Macworld 2009 prediction (most of which eventually came true, as of last week’s refreshes, so there!) so I’ll stick my neck out again.

BGR has said that the big news will be MMS and tethering, neither of which I care about, so if that’s the extent, I’ll be wanting that hour of my life back. Luckily, I seem to have a bigger imagination than BGR, so I think that the big news will be a UI overhaul, which includes better app management, greater use of background processes and real resolution independence. These three things combined make for a much stronger and larger iPhone OS ecosystem.

I have 62(!) apps that I downloaded from the App Store, plus the default apps that can’t be removed plus a couple of jailbreak apps (Qik and Winterboard) all spread out over seven pages and the dock. I have made some attempts at organization, but I find myself flicking between app pages way too often, and its gotten irritating. I don’t know what the best approach to app management on the iPhone is, but I do know that this ain’t it.

I’m expecting that the iPhone v.3 hardware, unlike the iPhone 3G, will have some significant upgrades. Newer, better SoC, more efficient, more storage flash RAM, but most importantly, more RAM. More than anything else, the limited 128MB of RAM in the iPhone (EDGE and 3G) is the limiting factor. I wanted an iPhone 3G until I realized that its guts were basically the same as the original. It was basically a 2008 phone using 2007 hardware. I figured that Apple would have to do a hardware update every year, so a two-year upgrade cycle should work for me.

I don’t think there’s any way that the v.3 iPhone won’t have significantly more horsepower to throw at the OS. Clearly, looking at the hardware that’s in the Pre, that 2009 vintage smartphones are significantly more capable than 2007 phones. Or, let me put it this way: if Palm was under the same constraints that Apple was under when it was developing the iPhone, the Pre wouldn’t have been possible. This should go without saying, especially when you compare what Palm was shipping when the iPhone shipped to the iPhone or the Pre. There’s such a difference between the Pre and the Treo 750 or 680 that the only thing that gives you any indication that they were made by the same company is the logo is the same on both.

Apple has now had two years of real-world experience of how to interact with a mobile platform and how to tweak hardware to the limits of its capabilities. I’m hoping that Apple grows the iPhone’s anemic RA from 128MB to at least 512MB or, even better, a gig. I think that lots and lots of RAM is essential for a good mobile experience. Of course the CPU, which may or may not be a new PA Semi design will be more efficient and sip less juice, probably have better antennas and there’ll be more flash memory. All of this is good, but the memory’s the key. I think we’ll know for sure if true background processes are in the new SDK.

The Pre has a great UI and an interesting paradigm. Clearly, Apple is not going to blatantly rip off Palm’s UI, but there are some really good ideas there. The really interesting thing is one that won’t have an immediate payoff: resolution independence.

Currently, the iPhone’s UI is based on bitmapped images. This assumes that the iPhone’s screen will be the same size and resolution. I’m also assuming that the v.3 will have the same size screen, if only because the iPhone has to remain pocketable. It can, however, have a higher resolution screen. A resolution-independent SDK allows Apple to do this without breaking third-party apps. Just like how Apple held its original SDK event in order to give developers enough time to populate the App Store when it launched, Apple again needs to give developers time to update their apps to take advantage of the new features. Apple has updated the original SDK several times since it was announced and since the App Store went live, usually with no announcement. By making such a big deal about the 3.0 OS and SDK, Apple is putting developers on notice by making sure that every iPhone user will be aware of the new features and will be demanding them when 3.0 goes live. If the iPhone OS goes resolution-independent with version 3.0, you can bet that there will be an Apple tablet this year, and it will be running on the iPhone OS, not Mac OS X.


About That iWork Virus

From the pirates are dumb category

Update Jan 26: There’s now an Adobe CS4 crack with the same trojan. While I have no love for Adobe and their stratospherically priced software, pirating software always carries risk that you just don’t see (usually) from vendors. This problem has been endemic with Windows krackz since forever, and I’m actually surprised that its taken this long to show up on the Mac, even in such an easily detectable and removable manner.

Anyway, if you need Photoshop, buy it. Yes its expensive, but if you need it, especially for your business, you should buy it. Sucks, but there’s always Acorn or Pixlemator if you’re poor. /Update

I have no idea why people insist on putting everything and anything on Bit Torrent sites, even if its freely available from a legitimate source. Without further comment, here’s the safe way to pirate iWork ’09:


(Check the comments)

Or, you could, you know, buy the fucking software.

iPhone personal politics stoopid

Paranoia Wins Out

So I read this story yesterday which just pushed me over the edge into full scale paranoia. I now require instant password on my iphone, password when leaving the screen saver or when waking up. I haven’t had auto-login for a while, so that’s nothing new. I’m also looking into full-disk encryption (which seems to be a no-go for Macs for now), fully encrypting all my email (which is problematic since I use gmail) and am looking for other ways to protect myself.

The Smith ruling turned on the fact that “addressing information” of the sort obtained by a pen register had been conveyed to the phone company and stored in their records. It was emphatically not a finding that a person’s “addressing information”—the names and phone numbers of the other people someone contacts—was just per se unprotected. And in fact, Congress responded to Smith by establishing a statutory requirement that police obtain a court order (though subject to a lower evidentiary standard than full-blown Fourth Amendment warrants) before using a pen-register or a trap-and-trace device to get that “addressing information” from a telecom. So even if police had wanted to get Fierros-Alvarez’s call history from that less protected source, they’d at least be subject to some judicial process.

Um, no.

But in any case, let’s see anyone argue that my info doesn’t have a reasonable expectation of privacy when its behind a password (and hopefully soon, 256-bit AES encryption).

Fascist assholes.


Safety Fail

I don’t know which is worse: the fact that the bar came loose in the first place, or the fact that that girl was hanging onto it for so long, knowing it was loose.

personal photography stoopid

SF MOMA and the War on Photography

Everyone’s been talking about Thomas Hawk’s misadventures at the SF MOMA, detailed here and here, and I just wanted to chime in.

My comment on TH’s Flickr post pretty much sums up my feelings.

I don’t always agree with Hawk’s actions or choice of friends (see: Scoble), but there’s no denying that he is one of the staunchest and most public defender or photographers’ rights on the net, and I think that that cause is always worth defending. I think its sad that predatory photography like celebrity-hounding paparazzi are allowed to harass people without consequence, while the rest of us who merely want to document the world around us, create art or enjoy their families risk arrest, harassment by authority figures, being labelled perverts, etc. Its got to stop.

Additionally, for someone of Blint’s position to act in such an unprofessional and hostile manner towards anyone, let alone a paying member of his museum is totally unacceptable. He represents the SF MOMA and his actions reflect the same. If I yelled at someone in the lobby of my institution the way Blint yelled at Hawk, I have no doubt I’d be shown the door that day, as would most people at virtually any place of work. If the MOMA doesn’t dismiss Blint, I know that I’ll never spend a single dime there, as they are an institution that simply doesn’t value their patrons.

personal stoopid


Holy crap! It’s been a long time between posts, too long, in fact. I’m really trying to keep this thing active, unlike my previous attempts. I DO have four posts languishing in the unpublished drafts limbo, but that for some reason or another, I just haven’t gotten around to finishing. Too much stuff, too much thinking, not enough follow-through. Whatever, shit WILL get done around here, even if I have to put myself on notice.

Wait, that’s not right…

MS Office science stoopid

Office 2k8 is teh Suck

Originally, I was planning on writing this screed lambasting teh suck that is Office 2008. Its not that I’ve changed my mind since the idea came to me, its just that I’ve had a week to calm down. In my line of work, which is of the scientific persuasion, we deal with lots of data. In an average experiment, we’ll have around 90-100 test subjects that give us double that number in useful data points, plus metadata. Yes, metadata in meatspace. And of course, we use Excel to handle all that.

Our main template has 15 tabs to separate out all the stuff that we need to keep track of. Scientific excel sheets are a big reason why I can justify running multiple monitors. Anyway, we usually have fewer than nine categories, like so:


This usually works pretty well, even when its filled:


The graphs that these generate are usually fairly readable, but its was a real PITA for experiment #664, which had 11 categories instead of the usual nine. Adding those categories required a lot of manual editing of complex formulas that really should be called incantations. That took me a little over an hour and way too much coffee. Then when I tried to get my charts to look like this:


I was introduced to the steaming turd that is Excel 08. In order to get those last two bars to look like the others required eight edits, plus one to change the scale. That’s nine edits, per graph, of which there are four.

Not a problem, you say? Well, that’s because you’ve clearly never had to make any change in an Excel 08 graph. The problem is that Excel crashed every single time I made an edit. For the math impaired, that’s 36 crashes. Once Excel crashed, I could make my edit, but when I got to the next one, FATALITY! The real bitch of it is, I had to make the edit, then when I hit the OK button, it would crash. So I actually ended up making 72 edits, only half of which kept.

I don’t particularly enjoy wasting my time, especially on something as stupid as that. Office 04 didn’t do that, but when I downgraded from 08, it picked up the habit somewhere. I guess if I reinstall OS X, I could use Office 04 and it would work properly, but fuck that! Office 2008 is so poorly written that it can barely handle basic functionality. Office 2007 works well. So well in fact that I’ll actually boot Windows to use it. But it still doesn’t play nice with the Mac versions, and since my lab is all Mac, that’s that.

All I want is an office suite that works and works well. iWork is nice, but doesn’t (yet) do all of the stuff that I need it to. Microsoft really needs to get their shit together before someone one-ups them. Office is a bitch to use, but is still the only suite with all of the features I need. As soon as I can get my hands on a suite that meets my needs, I’ll drop Office so fast, it’ll make Ballmer’s hair grow back.

BTW, I used the full sized images to show the real scale of what I had to deal with.