Five Days in Hell (5/5) (2009-05-03)

CD5K > FU > DWB > fab > 5dih_5

Eighteen chapters of craziness for your reading pleasure.


[Part Four]

5-03 A: Every Morning, When I Wake Up

Let me tell you about a little bus named H37. It gets to my house every morning at 7AM, when I get on and take one of the few hopefully remaining available seats. I am then shipped here to LHS, where I stay until the bus comes here at 4PM. This means I spend ten hours at school every day. I would consider this completely unacceptable if I still had my 10th grade Californian mindset, because back then even six hours at school was far too many.

There was no bus at RUHS, so I walked to and from school every morning, which wasn't so bad because it was a mere two blocks from my dad's apartment to the campus, compared to the two mile distance that exists between my aunt's house and LHS. I despise this bus and everyone on it. The junior high school gets out 15 minutes before we do, so H37 goes there first and picks up some of the most immature brats I've known in this day and age.

This isn't to say that the people who get on at the high school are of a higher mental capacity; some of them act equally as dumb, especially when they're sitting in the back of the bus, and I do mean this quite literally: last week, they were friggin' throwing toothpaste at eachother. It's something new every day on the wild and wacky freak show that is public transportation. Again, that can be taken literally: occasionally we get one-timers who I've never seen before, and they always ride during the morning, meaning fewer seats are available for those who matter. I usually get off the bus in the afternoon bearing a thought that is or resembles "Kids these days."

I'm not racist or prejudiced, but I have my stereotypes and premonitions, and I excel at pattern recognition. The following points overlap between the groups, but the more outstanding riders generally fall within these categories. White people tend to be the most stingy with seating and don't give two stones about anyone but themselves (I'm a bit shut-up-and-go-die myself but I'll sit next to just about anyone if they'll let me.), blacks stay within their own group and act like fools while blasting rap 'music' on their PSPs, but the non-anti-social hispanics are by far the most annoying. It's a bit ironic for me to say this as [FALSE JUSTIFICATION REMOVED].

All last week, they've been drawing on eachother with markers, throwing things at eachother, trying to talk to me even though I'm capable of ignoring them to death, and otherwise being a general nuisance. Girls tend to be more social and smiley and thus more annoying, but there is more than one occasion I've wanted to knock another guy out then and there. The entire time I was on the bus last Thursday, in between throwing small rocks at people who were throwing small rocks at him, this one guy was constantly trying to talk to me, repeatedly tapping me on the shoulder and asking me things like if I'd swap seats with him, how old I was, what grade I was in, what my name was (he apparently really needed to know who I was even though that wasn't a priority before I got on that afternoon), and if I smoked weed, snorted crack, or used heroin.

The entire time he was on the bus, I never looked at him or said one word, yet still he persisted. I was amazed at this incredulous "pester until response" method so much that I intentionally stayed in that seat to see how far he would take it. Are people really this desperate for attention nowadays?

5-03 B: Faster, Safer, and Easier to Use than Ever Before!

Context: Microsoft's latest operating system at the time this was written, which I happened to be using, was the PR disaster that was Windows Vista. This chapter also ignores the organized criminal malware scene because I was not yet aware of its existence.

The chapter title is Microsoft's tagline for virtually every single product it develops and releases. It is a very ironic saying, considering that unpatched releases of their software are usually extremely vulnerable, especially when paired with a user who doesn't know what they're doing.

Technological advancement calls for operating systems that can make use of the latest and greatest resources, something MS has kept up with since the late 80s, yet they seem to be doing it all wrong in recent years. Part of this is due to the malevolence of because-I-can crackers and programmers who write a virus for the hell of it and see how many users it infects, and perhaps another part is the sheer number of open communication channels at the corporation's headquarters. The less people working on a project there are, the more likely it will be finished sooner and closer to the original design specifications. As more channels of communication are opened, things must be documented, described, and debated until one eventually reaches the point where nothing can get done because nobody can agree on anything.

Microsoft, it seems, has reached this point. The possibility of communication degradation combined with the massive undertaking of what an operating system must be able to do in this day and age has allowed open source communities to pull ahead. The brilliant thing about open source is that if you want to implement a feature, you just download what work exists and create a fork or an unofficial version containing that feature.

Context: The most recent release of Firefox at the time of writing was 3.0.10. Yes, you read that right; not thirty, but three, made back when Mozilla actually used minor version numbers!

This is one such reason why Firefox is making excellent progress; people from all walks of life are uniting to create the ultimate moddable and customizable web browsing experience. Various users contribute plugins, add-ons, and skins while a team of internet security experts maintain the core code. It is fast, free, and easy.

Speaking of easy, usability is something Microsoft has nailed with Windows. Linux, an open-source kernel that supports many operating systems which forked from the original code, lets you do virtually anything with your system if you know what you're doing but is nearly useless if you're not willing to read the manual. And there's a surprising amount of people out there who don't want to read a manual to get their contraption boxamajiggers working. All they should have to do is press a button and watch it boot up, right?

This is the problem with creating software; it has to work on a wide variety of systems that can have any range of specifications flawlessly and without question or you'll get ten million calls from people who think their system's DVD-ROM drive is a cup holder.

5-03 C: The Future Sucks, Let's Talk About The Past

NOTICE: THIS IS A TEST OF THE EMERGENCY DREAMING SYSTEM. THIS IS ONLY A DREAM. NO PSYCHOLOGISTS ARE NECESSARY. DO NOT ADJUST YOUR DOCTOR. what I would say had I gotten any sleep this night. Instead, I lied there, awake, pondering existence and the meaning of things to come. What will people remember me for, or will they remember me at all? Will anything I do mean anything in 200 years? Did I leave the oven on? Did you remember to lock the back door?

My future projects include the management of [REDACTED], and starting a permanently small entertainment studio and production company, Bytemoth Corporation. When I say small, I mean it; there are currently no plans to have any more than ten people working there at any given time, and those people include me (the programmer), two or three artists, a musician slash artist, and perhaps we'll also bring in a copyright/IP lawyer and an accountant if we can find either of those, in addition to people to fill any other positions that are needed. Was that window open a few seconds ago?

My dad is great. He currently works at Boeing as a satellite tester and technician. He does virtually nothing but work and study, has no concept of relaxation, can live extremely frugally due to being raised in a poor family, and ponders the mysteries of astronomy and outer space in whatever spare time he has.

His hobbies include checking out all the local restaurants and hangout spots, motorcycle riding, and watching Star Trek: Voyager. He has degrees in electronics, automobile mechanics, satellite technology, and recently obtained some in real estate brokerage. He's not much of a writer but will wax philosophical with you if you're there for insightful discussion. He's doing all he can to make a better and easier life for myself as well as future generations of the family. We currently communicate entirely through e-mail, but that will end when he finally pays off the loan on one of the houses he owns, finishes his education, and decides to retire. Together we'll take over Texas real estate to become the premier name in fixer-upper purchases, sales, and rentals. We're [REDACTED], united against the world. Expect us.

Bonus: America the Arrogant (Sharing is Caring)

Warning: This chapter is riddled with moral righteousness and a sense of superiority. It probably contains inaccurate information, and is included only for the sake of completeness. You might be better off skipping it and watching Steal This Film or Good Copy, Bad Copy instead.

Land of the free, home of the enslaved. A phrase that only makes sense if you think about it to describe a country that makes no sense regardless of how much anyone thinks about it. America's long advertised itself as a fresh start, where everyone is free to make their own success; the "Come live here, we have hotdogs! And opportunity!" country. However, it seems to me that opportunity only exists if you're either a very effective marketer or a CEO of a large corporation that specializes in product x.

This will change over time as consumers get fed up with the same few-leading-many structure that we broke off from Britain to escape and demand change, but for now megacorporations hold all the patents, trademarks, lobbyists, and lawyers necessary to drain any strand of originality and independent thinking from anyone who looks at them funny. My topic for this extra chapter is the so-called "war on piracy" which has proven to be a fraction as effective as the "war on drugs".

The recent and past action against a torrent tracker host in Sweden (which, as they point out to those who send them legal threats, is not a US territory) [REDACTED] has astounded and amazed me. It seems the RIAA, MPAA, and some other four-letter organizations are clinging as desperately as they can to old traditions, staunchly refusing to realize the potential marketing capability that arises from internet filesharing, and also refusing to realize that copyright laws just might be different in other countries.

The only files hosted by [REDACTED] and other torrent tracker sites are files containing hashes and checksums. The actual copyrighted content that is transferred is done so on a user-to-user basis. This is not illegal in Sweden, as Sweden doesn't care about your stupid American DMCA. If you're up for a laugh or some more in-depth examples of the types of cease and desist letters they get, navigate your browser to [REDACTED] and look for the legal threats section. It's an interesting read if you've got the time.

The active and futile effort by the entertainment industry to quell illegal filesharing is absolutely ridiculous considering they are not excluded from the blame of spreading it. That's right, I said it. Piracy: they caused it too. Consumers like the idea of owning something once they've purchased it. It is theirs, they've paid for it, and therefore it should work in any and every device they use it with. This hasn't been the case in recent years.

Publishers have long been slapping DRM (Digital [RESTRICTIONS] Management) software onto their productions, seemingly unaware that (a) such things are crackable, and (b) consumers are becoming furious with them considering that this often-invasive DRM is capable of doing some crazy stuff to one's machine if it is allowed to persist. In addition to limiting of the number of machines you can install the software on, DRM has a tendency to not allow you to use the software its protecting if you have CD/DVD burning software installed, two or more DVD-R drives, or expect it to work properly and as it was described.

The solution to this, as already discovered by many consumers, is to boycott the company and get all their junk both cost-free and DRM-free online via peer-to-peer networks until said company decides that telling your consumer what they can and cannot do with the software on that little plastic disc they shelled out their hard-earned money for is somewhat bad for business. What would we ever do without hackers?

Another contributing factor to piracy is that, in some countries where most people are below the poverty line such as China and the Philippines, they cannot afford the prices asked and still wouldn't buy legitimate copies if they could, considering it's much cheaper and easier to get a bootleg. As an example, one Filipino citizen was floored when he found out that the actual price of video games in his country was 30 times the $1.00 he had been paying for them all his life. Retailers charge prices considered extraordinarily high in these countries and then wonder why it blows up in their faces, all the while locking down their productions with more security and protection that the technologically inclined manage to remove as if it were never there.

After the public outrage over EA's Spore, which originally included a requirement of online reactivation every 10 days, the game was found to be streaming over the internet on torrents one week, that's seven whole days, count 'em, before the game was even released in stores. Still they persist, pretending that their thinly disguised malware is actually helping the situation. Here's a hint: it's not. You can drop the act now. We have reached a point in time where consumers feel that paying for media is entirely optional, and your piracy rate will always be 80-90% unless you can convince those who downloaded it that what they just received was, in fact, produced by human beings who do, in fact, need to make a profit on this to survive and would, in fact, love to be compensated for their hard work if their production is enjoyable. Corporations these days.

In Conclusion

"Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind."
- Dr. Seuss

"I can be changed by what happens to me, but I refuse to be reduced by it."
- Maya Angelou

"Consider calling it a challenge rather than calling it a crisis."
- Mary Anne Radmacher



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