Author Archives: xarinatan

Time to fire up this place again

It’s been a while since I placed anything on here.. but I do think I’m going to continue using it. Perhaps for more than rants now though, more like a dump of everything I find useful to know to the general public from my perspective that doesn’t fit on my Twitter. So we’ll see where it goes! But expect it to be more than rants. For those who are following this blog anyway, ha. Anywho..

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What makes Apple ‘addictive’ (and why I hate it)

When people talk about Apple they usually are either extremely for or against the company, that, while rarely people can ever point out why.

Personally, I figured, this is because of Apple’s lowest level of philosophy which they seem to follow, that is something along the lines of “We’ll worry about the system, you just do your shit”.

Why you ask? Well, this has two very obvious results, the first being that their systems appear ‘user friendly’, they make the complicated choices for you, they put some time and effort into finding the just the right approach, and use it to build all their systems and make them cooperate. But then something else happens; They FORCE you to actually USE that approach, you get little to no options to sidetrack from it, let alone take a completely different approach from the start.

And this is why many people actually dislike Apple (admittedly so do I), because they assume their users are ‘unknowledgable’ (i.e stupid), don’t allow you to take a direction of your own; You HAVE to use THEIR hardware with THEIR software, And vica versa. Yes, you do have the absurdly expensive Bootcamp, but why can’t I just install my own software and let it talk with the hardware directly? We’ve got the BIOS and UEFI, both essentially just protocols to make it possible for everyone to write their own software and make use of the hardware at the lowest level in an easy way, get the control handed to you as operating system, and then just doing whatever you want with it from there. Why in the world would I need some convoluted piece of software to do what should’ve been in the hardware in the first place? And this really puts the finger on where it hurts, Apple just doesn’t like conventions and standards, they want to do it /their/ way, because they believe their way is the best way. And to some extend it might be, they do put some thought into what they make and they do come up with smart ideas, but (besides the obvious arrogance of doing so) when you as user think you might have an even BETTER idea, well you can really just go screw yourself.

And that’s why I don’t like Apple, but can imagine why some people would.

My stance on piracy

When you hear people talk about piracy they usually talk from either one of two sides:

  • Piracy is awesome and the Big Media Companies® are bad people! I have no idea why they keep coming up with things like SOPA, PIPA and CISPA! They’re obviously clueless and making an issue out of something nonexistent! Now excuse me while I’ll leech a copy of the new album of my favorite band, giving them not a single dime for it should have been free anyway! Surely there are plenty of OTHER people buying their stuff anyway!
  • Piracy is bad and hurting my revenue! We should do everything to stop it! Sue everything until all 7 billion people in this world that feel any remote urge to share anything oblige to the will of my company’s income! Nothing will stop my ultimate grip on the government for I am the most important thing in the world as the money my company makes feeds thousands! The internet is a bad place and torrents and sites like The Pirate Bay are just a feature that can be removed without any significant impact on the working of the whole internet!

Putting it like that might even give some people an idea of what my rant is about. People have been swamped with so much information and choices in the subject they usually return to one of these two sides, which in itself isn’t that bad, after all, the less in numbers and the bigger in size the groups are, the more likely they’ll be heard.

But, dear leechers and pirates and the like, have you ever considered that that one CD you pirated doesn’t just make them miss out on the 5.99$ YOU would’ve paid otherwise but also that of everyone else with the same attitude? You can’t just assume someone else will fix what you do wrong, surely you’ve heard of the saying “A better world starts with yourself”. No, SOPA/PIPA/CISPA are shit laws and it’s horrible they even got consideration from the government, and Yes, that does show they’re in fact a little clueless about the internet and how it works, but what if I told you they’re not just doing it to annoy you and rake in more money? Would you honestly believe that a company with so much people working for it would really be so stupid? No! Piracy IS a real problem! They’re very right when they say you’re guilty of stealing when you take an unauthorized copy of a work. And don’t give me that “But how do you know if I would’ve bought it otherwise” crap, you don’t hoard 3TB worth of music, games and movies that ‘you wouldn’t have gotten if it weren’t free’.

And, Dear media conglomerates, do you really think you’ll end piracy suing everything that smells like it could affect your income? “Piracy” is nothing more than copying, it’s the act of sharing a file with fellow people. When you say “fix the internet, so that it doesn’t allow piracy”, the closest example with something less technologically advanced that is similar in demand would be “fix wheels, so that bankrobbers and other bad people can’t use them under their cars anymore”. It just doesn’t work like that. When you sue a website, you’re suing a piece of software that just makes it easier for people to do what they would’ve done regardless. It’s the PEOPLE you have to change, NOT the internet, the internet is an objective data transfer medium, it doesn’t know that it’s transporting data you don’t like to see transported. You can’t make it stop running piracy just by saying “it shouldn’t run this protocol” and you can’t make pedophiles stop from sharing child pornography for the same reason. I think we can all agree that child porn should be stopped. It’s got nothing to do with money, it’s just not accepted by society, and while the cause would be to some more noble than stopping piracy you’d get the exact same results as when you’d try to stop piracy. The government isn’t unwilling to help, it’s simply downright impossible from the attack vector you choose!

And that brings me back to the original subject: Piracy. Some of you might by now say “but, there’s a lot of good things piracy does!”, and I’m happy to tell you, I agree! Absolutely! I’m just saying that the reasons WHY you should resort to piracy is something you should really think through before you download that CD, or movie, or game, or anything else. You don’t have the money? Well, I understand. But when you do have the money and you did enjoy the music, make sure to toss em a few coins, they’ll highly appreciate it! Or perhaps you just want to learn? You want to become say, a graphics designer, and by far most companies out there use the well known Adobe Photoshop, but even though you could perhaps scrap together the huge amount of money that it costs, you never intended to use the program the way those companies do; You just want to try stuff out, draw things, be creative. THEN I can understand you’d download a cracked version! You’re not making money with it, you’re not a company that needs Photoshop as part of its business plan, you’re just an innocent civilian that wants to learn.

But if you CAN spare the money, and you LIKE that CD, movie, or game you just found, and you STILL feel you’re entitled to a free copy at the cost of the artist’s income, you’re a thief in my book.

A video I think everyone should see at some point is Cory Doctorow: The coming war on general computation. He makes some very good points about the subject, and he knows how to keep an audience entertained, so give it a try! It’s inspiring.

Why you Shouldn’t give people Ubuntu when they ask for Linux

Ubuntu isn’t bad. Let me say that first. I’m not posting this to bash Ubuntu, but think twice before you just hook someone up with Ubuntu when he asks for ‘Linux’.

Ubuntu follows the mainstream. Look at what Apple and Microsoft are doing with their OS, Windows 8 is touch-focussed, and you can’t deny Mountain Lion looks a lot like iOS these days. When people ask for Linux they usually want to try something new that ISN’T a touch-focussed, big button ‘look how simple we are’ OS.

And because of its Debian roots, Ubuntu is a bit behind on schedule, to get the ‘latest greatest’ you have to look beyond it. KDE 4.8 is much faster than the earlier KDE 4 releases, it’s smooth and fast and lighter, and most of all, convenient. Or perhaps you want something REALLY lightweight, you can look at LXDE/XFCE desktop environments.
And if you really want to go for an Ubuntu derivative, there’s also Kubuntu and Lubuntu.

Again I’m not saying Ubuntu is bad, but I’m seeing a lot of people that literally CONFUSE Ubuntu and Linux. Ubuntu is a Linux distro, Linux is not ‘Ubuntu’. There’s much much much more out there, and while Ubuntu isn’t bad, it ain’t the best either. So take a look around!

The new “Stupid” mode for Nexuiz

For those who haven’t noticed yet, There’s a new “Stupid mode” available for Nexuiz, and it shows up in your steam library if you bought the game.

For those who noticed and were wondering what this actually is; read on.

I’m not entirely sure why they called it “Stupid” but one thing is for sure, this is only for enthusiasts. Reportedly the download size is 23GB, and the reason behind it is that every texture is full-res uncompressed. Quote:

And for players who want to see the full extent of how IllFonic have harnessed CryENGINE 3, there’s always what the developer affectionately refers to as “Stupid” mode. “It’s not called ‘Stupid’ for nothing!” jokes Gonzalez. “Every texture in the game is uncompressed. Every light source casts shadows. The particles are cranked. A lot of particles receive shadows. Lensflares have light shafts. Cloth physics everywhere. Mesh tessellation hotness. Super high quality environment probes. More mesh detail. More environmental props. It’s pretty stupid. In a good way!””

tl;dr
This “stupid” mode is a graphics mode with overdone graphics features up to the point that some will call it “unoptimised”. Some will like, some will not.

So, Unless you have some SERIOUS firepower in that computer, don’t even try it. It’ll just take up a ton of space.

On the other hand, if you DO have that firepower and you really want to benchmark your rig, give it a try! I doubt there’s anything more heavy out there right now.

Note that the author of this picture probably wasn't able to max out 'stupid mode'.

Note that the author of this picture probably wasn’t able to max out ‘stupid mode’.

A rant about DRM, Copyright lobbies, and Pirating

The copyright industry is becoming a real problem. There’s no denying in that. With things like DRM that goes so far that they’ll count the amount of people watching a movie and basing the amount of licenses you have to buy off that I think pretty much every sane person left will agree that things are being taken way way WAY too far.

But on the other end, I completely understand artists and authors of works want to see some money for the amounts of work they’ve put into it. I think that again, every sane person will agree with this. You want money for what you make and do, so you can actually make a living out of it, and anyone would protest at seeing other people taking their product that they want money for and using it for free.

So assuming the person reading agrees with me thusfar, how is it possible that I see a huge amount of people saying things like “I already boycot movies and music (and pirate everything I want).”

Pirating is not a form of boycotting. I’m not against pirating, I think that if you want to, you should be able to get ANY information in the world without having to pay for it first. Information should be always free to anyone at any time as that is essential to a well-developing society in times like these.

But just because you don’t agree with the price of a lunch or the DRM measures that come with your lunch (like that you have to eat it in that restaurant) doesn’t mean that you should steal the lunch instead. That’s just plain wrong. You’re cheating on a whole bunch of people, from the cooks to the restaurant owners, JUST because you don’t like a policy. And then you exclaim it’s a boycot? No, no that’s not how that works. If you disagree with the terms of service and you wish to boycot, Then boycot. When I realized that Mass Effect 3 was going to be origin-exclusive, and I really really really hate origin, I boycotted it. I have not, to this days date, played that game. And that wasn’t an easy decision, I’ve played ME 1 and 2 through at least twice each, I’ve spent at least over a 100 hours in game in both these games and I was really looking forward to the final part. But I decided that origin was going to be a big no-no for me and therefore I boycotted it.

Now I can already hear a whole bunch of people yelling “But a download doesn’t equal a lost sale! Your restaurant comparison doesn’t work here!”, which is true to an extent, but didn’t you just exclaim that you were doing it because you wanted to boycot the product and you would’ve bought it otherwise? You can’t just download every game ever and never pay for any of them, play them through several times and when someone asks “why didn’t you buy them” reply “because I didn’t agree with them!”. That’s when downloading really becomes stealing, you’re freeloading off products that you should’ve paid for.

Paying for products isn’t something that you do because someone else tells you to, you do it because you want to reward the people that created the product because you enjoyed it, and perhaps you want more. I can understand anyone downloading anything just because they want to see what it is about, but if you then enjoy what you found, reward the authors! It’s not just a kind thing to do, anyone that doesn’t do that is in my eyes a douche. Treat others as you would want them to treat you. Do you want people to steal whatever you create and exclaim it should’ve been free anyway? No? Then pay for the things you use.

Debunking some Apple myths

Generally speaking I’m not much of an Apple-basher. I’ve had my share of iPods (normal HDD one, video, nano.. ), we have an iPad at home which we all use to look up things or even play small games; I don’t have much against Apple’s stuff (aside from them being increasingly more arrogant, but that’s another subject).

HOWEVER.

People really need to stop saying Apple is ‘better than everything else’. I just really hate the fanboyism that is usually connected to people that own Apple products.

So today, I’m gonna debunk some of the most common myths that Apple fanboys keep up high. Not because I particularly hate Apple, but the fanboyism around it.

1: “Apple makes the best hardware”

This is probably the most common and most annoying myth out there. Apple’s hardware isn’t only very average hardware, they don’t make hardware AT ALL. You may or may not have heard it before, but foxconn is the company that makes Apple’s hardware. Foxconn has a huge list of customers which you may know as many big brands out there, here’s a list from Wikipedia:
Major customers of Foxconn currently include:

 Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Foxconn

That’s right; when you buy Apple’s stuff, you buy the exact same stuff as when you’d buy Acer, Sony, Toshiba, HP, Dell, etc.

So how can it be faster?
That’s a simple one: It simply isn’t. Have you considered the difference in price you’re paying for the cheapest Apple product and the cheapest Acer product? Really the main difference here is that Acer actually offers a cheap option. If you still think Apple is better, Let me ask you a question in return: Have you ever had a non-apple computer that was as expensive as a macbook/imac? Trust me, 99% of the time you’ll get better specs than Apple can get you. Apple has been getting arrogant. They set huge margins on their products because they can, resulting in one of those typical fashion-like hype products that don’t really have much extra quality, they just show off status by the fact they’re expensive.

2: Apple works better with Adobe/’graphics’ products.

This was true for a while, back when they used powerPC processors and Adobe and Apple were still big friends, photoshop would run much better on a mac. Nowadays things are different.
Macs no longer use the Motorola PowerPC processors, and instead use Intel processors. They aren’t worse or better, they’re just a different instruction set (x86 instead of powerpc) and more convential than Motorola’s stuff, which makes it a lot cheaper.
Also Apple has been bullying Adobe, if you’ve heard about the whole flash thing and how Apple treated Adobe lately you’d be surprised they ever were friends.
Those two combined result in the same product being ported from Windows to Mac OS. They’re the exact same codebase with the difference that one is compiled for Windows and one for Mac OS.

“But retina displays!”
Retina is just a term coined by Apple to mark their high resolution (high DPI) screens.
There are TONS of screens out there that squarely outperform Apple’s retina stuff. They’re good screens, just, not the best. So stop saying that they are.

3: Apple’s stuff “just works” and is much less error prone than other operating systems!

False. As ‘that IT dude’ I hate to tell you this but there simply isn’t ANY computer out there that runs flawlessly. That’s just how computers are. They’re whiny, bitchy, annoying pieces of sh*t that need tons of maintenance. That’s why there’s such a huge need for qualified IT personell. And no, that won’t change when you switch everything to Apple. In fact, in a company environment I think you’ll find there’s many functionality Windows has had for ages that makes it so ideal in enterprise situations, that Mac OS simply doesn’t have.

Little known fact: Mac OS X isn’t written by Apple from scratch. First line from the wiki page: “OS X (play / ˌɛs ˈtɛn/),[8] originally Mac OS X,[9] is a series of Unix-based graphical interface operating systems developed, marketed, and sold by Apple Inc.” ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mac_OS_X ) Note the “Unix-based”.

So, what does Apple do that attracts a lot of people?

They keep their stuff simple. They iterate their hardware yearly, they don’t give much choices, no cheap options, they name their stuff as simple and short as possible, and they take away as much freedom as possible. They also play a man in the middle role for everything you do.

  • You want hardware? You buy from Apple. They have their own stores, you can’t buy Apple in mixed resellers; And everything is branded Apple, despite them not having built it.
  • You want software? You buy from Apple. They have their own Appstore across all platforms.
  • You need support? Apple care.
  • You need to save your stuff in a cloud? iCloud.

Et cetera Et cetera.

This makes it a lot more clear for many people what to do when, and who to contact. People have busy lifes, they don’t care what’s the reason their PC is slow, they just want it to work. But the thing is, Apple only appears more simple. What they’re really doing is taking away control from you, making decisions for you and tell you what’s good for you.
If you’re okay with the lack of freedom, then I can imagine why Apple is a tempting choice, but keep in mind, with just a tiny bit more effort you can get a whole lot more for your money. Any PC for a thousand euros/dollars/pounds will be a monster. And if you ask someone to reinstall it after you got it to get rid of all the bloatware and preinstalled crap (seriously why do they even put that on there?), you’ll always end up with a well performing computer that you’ll be using for up to a decade after purchase.