Saturday, January 26, 2008

Modern Life - Part 2

It started with noticing a charge for LA Times delivery on my credit card that seemed excessive. Like many I suppose I don't go through my bills as much as I might, and as it turned out, a phone call and long hold later, I discovered that I had in fact two subscriptions - one at a promotional rate that I knew about, another at the full rate I did not.

But as I explained to the person on the phone -- I only have one paper. She cancelled the correct subscription and arranged a credit for several similar charges. Great.

Only the next morning - no paper arrived. So another call, another hold, another explanation.

Such is life in the information age where getting a live human on the phone is a mixed blessing.

This morning I got an email from my cellular carrier telling me that the credit card where I had autobilling set up was not working anymore. That is because my credit card provider, in its infinite wisdom, had "upgraded" me to a better class of disservice.

So I tried to take advantage of this to combine my cell bill with my main phone provider (think AT&T) into one convenient bill. 45 minutes later and 2 wrong transfers to the wrong department and this was actually arranged, although it means ignoring my cell phone bill in the mail for 2-1/2 months and then paying a larger amount pro-rated. Why? Because that's their system... I had him explain it twice but there was really no fighting it. I need the phone.

And I may need a second blood pressure pill to get through the day.

But while waiting on hold I watched an episode of Cranky Geeks from PC Magazine that confirmed that I am not alone with my experience with Vista (You Cannot Be Serious - see below).

Serenity now?

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Intelligent Life?

The impact on organized religion from extra-terrestrial visitation may not have materialized - yet - but the same impact can be gleaned from recent developments in computer science, nanotechnology and biotechnology/genetics.

Why does the idea that neuroscience, genetics and perhaps other fields - with their incredible complexity -have programming at their core, and show evidence of our brain or our DNA having been "intelligently designed" - buoy conventional fundamental religions?

If anything, this evidence would suggest that our anthropomorphic concepts of an angry (or loving - evidence of that?) gray bearded all knowing guy in the sky is flawed and outdated.

What this evidence might indeed suggest, instead, is that the natural universe is not an accident but that its source of creation and the laws that govern it are far beyond our comprehension.

What it may well indicate is that our senses are constrained and limited in their ability to comprehend reality, or that we must rethink our very concept of mind, matter, spirit, energy and particularly intelligence.

Humanity's invention of the computer (which has led us to the concept of programming and its mathematical principles as a living metaphor) may just be a fundamental step in our evolution from primitive mob driven religions to a deeper understanding of our true place in life -- with the realization that its mysteries are far deeper than previously thought.

As we discover evidence of programming (i.e., conscious reproducible instructions) in genetics and neuroscience (which would have made no sense before the Enlightenment and advent of technology) we need to expand our cosmology and religious concepts accordingly.

For one thing, the level of sophistication of the "program" that suggests that all life is indeed intelligent (or created) makes it obvious that the level of knowledge and power of whatever created life (since we can't) and programmed it in ways we are just beginning to comprehend is of an order of magnitude higher than anything we can even remotely fathom.

Calling this God without a scientific definition based on empirical evidence in line with modern science is ultimately meaningless. It is like assigning it an ultimate variable for which we have no value.

From this perspective, organized religion seems to be like the musings of an ant living in a giant garden or a huge estate in pontificating about the true nature of the king or president of the country in which the estate is located - so far removed in level and knowledge that all of its prattling is idle chatter.

What the presence of a mind (or an incomprehensible intelligent energy or force) behind life at its core (in the brain and in the genes) suggests instead is that our brain is limited in its capacity to even understand a fraction of its true nature.

If you have any doubt about this, go outside at night and look at the stars and try to comprehend the vast distances they represent. Then try to think outside of that space.

You can't. If you could, you might begin to understand the meaning of an intelligence behind life.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Why I Skipped CES

If you go to CES you can look at a billion bluetooth headsets, not learn how to create programs for cell phones or really find anyone who knows what Bluetooth is and can explain it in english. Ditto InfoComm. PowerPoint LIVE thrives because it still captures some of that energy. People are solving content creation and delivery problems but basically that whole community is in the Presentations Council, PowerPoint LIVE, the PowerPoint MVP/Newsgroup and that's it.

So the Post COMDEX InfoComm/CES world is devoid of real emergent software issues - it's truly dumbed down plug and play with only three major players left in the interactive software space - Microsoft, Adobe and arguably Apple (apologies to TechSmith-anyone remember Ulead?). They have their own conferences for their own developers and high end users and there is no overlapping conference for people trying to make sense of the whole thing (because that is no longer remotely possible -anyone here use Vista?).

The Flash/Macromedia/Apple people look down on PowerPoint (and the rest of the Presentations world) and have their own conferences and inhabit different solar systems. Programmers and Game Developers are in different galaxies.

While AV has merged with IT, the IT is now redefined as web/security/network/telcomm-hardware oriented. There is not the same intellectual challenge in terms of mastering new software or techniques - there is security and dealing with the muddle of Vista/Office 2007 but everyone does video now, everyone uses PowerPoint, everyone makes animated GIFs, sets up projectors and makes web pages and blogs. Even though Microsoft tries to pretend that there is really new stuff in Office, it's mostly window dressing and it's not significantly growing or expanding in scope and features (only in frustration).

The real experts creating breakthroughs do it in isolated silos of software and by our nature, as generalists, we are becoming obsolete. That is until someone needs to connect a projector to a laptop. Then they call us or read archived editions of Presentations or figure it out on Google.

The train has left the station as far as all encompassing venues where people from different technology worlds and tracks interact, grow and learn. Chances are we're all doing our own blogs and reinstalling Windows but it you want to see the future get a satellite set top box/DVR - it's dummy proof, you can figure it out without a manual, it rarely crashes and when it does you call a guy in India who hangs up on you. That's the future of computing.

19 Years to Move 3 Folders?

... I'm not sure if my battery will make it that long. This is in addition to the time it takes to "calculate" how long it will be. Apparently Microsoft has a Vista patch to take care of this issue, but you need to contact Tech Support.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Vista - You Cannot Be Serious

This is how Vista burns a DVD! Your options are to purchase an upgrade to a burning program because the ones that worked with XP don't work with Vista. You also need to check your settings because if you choose incorrectly the disc will only be readable on Vista... maybe...

Thursday, January 17, 2008