Posts by Steve Ballantyne

  • Hard News: When we had hope and change,

    If I recall correctly, John Kirk disappeared in the general direction of the US following incidents – my memory becomes vague here – involving dishonesty and some intemperate opinionating at variance with his role as MP in his late father's seat.

    We seem to have done a really thorough job of effortlessly stuffing him down the memory hole, not that he didn't deserve it. But I've just read a short article on the BBC's website about the difficulty of erasing Jimmy Savile from the public record. Perhaps we could teach them a thing or two about creating non-persons?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 26 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: When we had hope and change, in reply to Hilary Stace,

    but also some strange family members

    Oh lord yes – I know this is nothing but the most morbid curiosity – but whatever did happen to that awful John Kirk?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 26 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: The not-so-Evil Empire, in reply to Brian Fairchild,

    I'm a fairly heavy user of iOS – my iPhone currently holds 297 apps (of which six are games), 680 photos, five videos and 428 songs – and my iPad is similarly loaded. So if Apple was about to abuse anyone's credit card it would probably be mine.

    So far it hasn't.

    That's typical of my experiences with Apple; I'm 62 now and I've been using Apple products since I was 35 without any serious problems, except for the time my Mac Plus made a long hissing sound as it let the air into its CRT.

    I don't really expect Apple to try to swindle me, anyway – it's making plenty of money from me by, for example, clipping my ticket by 30% every time I buy an app. That's capitalism, which we live with more or less happily. I used to complain about it but the death rate on the Berlin Wall and the realisation that the Soviet Union would never have devised something like Mac OS, much less an iPad or an iPhone, helped me grow to tolerate it. Besides, Apple lets app developers have 70% of the retail price of their work – compare this with the 10% book publishers typically let their authors keep. As big capitalists go, Apple is pretty good.

    If you don't like the terms and conditions attached to your iPad, have you thought about jailbreaking it? It's true that jailbreaking defeats the idea of simple, secure computing, and it won't solve your system update problems, but at least you'll be comforted by the knowledge that you can do what you want with your device. Assuming you know what it is you want to do, that is.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 26 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Auckland, so much enormity to…, in reply to 3410,

    @3410: A dictionary definition, eh? And what dictionary would that be?

    I made use of my Auckland City Library card to access the online edition of the OED, which notes the word derives from the obsolete adjective enorm, meaning deviating from the ordinary rule or type, and then goes on to note:

    Excess in magnitude; hugeness, vastness. Obs.; recent examples might perh. be found, but the use is now regarded as incorrect.

    As a subeditor the only way I'll let it through when used with this meaning is in a direct quote, followed by [sic]. I'm surprised the Herald subs feel differently.

    Secretly, I rather like [sic] even if I'd prefer not to use it. It's a subeditor's way of saying "this writer is a dunce."

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 26 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: You know what ..., in reply to tussock,

    I'm keen to hear how this will be made to fit into 9/11 Truther conspiracy theory. I like a laugh now and then.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 26 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Perverse Entertainment,

    I recall when Redbaiter first popped up on Usenet back some time in the 1990s with posts in nz.general and nz.politics. His outstandingly nutty rants were actually quite refreshing at first, since Usenet was already in terminal decline back then and most of the posters were plainly drongoes. Redbaiter generally spells quite well and has a uniquely colourful style, which is why I'm pretty sure there's only one of him.

    It also led to Gordon McLauchlan outing him in the Herald in the early 2000s – he wrote McLauchlan a letter complaining about some "commie" thing he had said the previous week and foolishly put his name on it. McLauchlan quoted the letter as an example of the sort of thing he had to put up with and gave away Red's name and home town. The town was Tauranga – not a big surprise, that – and his name I won't mention because Redbaiter obviously still wants to keep his identity as secret as he can.

    Like Batman.

    It doesn't matter anyway – he's not anybody you'd ever have heard of; but it did elicit some chuckles among the handful of people who haunted nz.politics back then.

    I don't know when Redbaiter finally realised Usenet was dead and left – I'm pretty sure I was gone before he was.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 26 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: A very roundabout review of…, in reply to Jackie Clark,

    As a moderate Jeff Bridges fan, I'll be waiting until February 3 for my next dose. That's when the Coen brothers' True Grit is scheduled to open here.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 26 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Catching up with the future…,

    @Sacha: Master Chief on a PS3? That would imply Microsoft was a software company...

    People, I wouldn't get my hopes up too high about the PlayTV -- I bought one a couple of weeks ago from two guys working out of a garage in Penrose and so far the experience has been disappointing. Partly because I haven't managed to swap in a 500GB drive yet (the damn thing won't just format -- suggestions, anyone?) but mostly because the performance isn't much good. Choppy video with occasional blizzards of artefacting, and everything in SD. It'll go okay if you set it up to record by itself and do nothing else -- if I want to watch something on another channel I switch back to my Freeview terrestrial box and luxuriate in HD, then (at my leisure) see whatever I've recorded in coarse SD.

    Damn! I bought the PS3 primarily to watch BlueRays and having it not capable of displaying a broadcast HD signal is wrong.

    The lack of a fully operating programme guide is annoying but I was prepared for that. When I asked one of the guys in the garage when he thought Sony would get it working with our local Freeview his estimate was "never".

    Conclusions: PlayTV is a tiny bit better than nothing at all. And it's cheap if you already have a PS3.

    As for TVNZ OnDemand's logo automagically installing itself above my PlayTV menu, that was a surprise. Picture quality may not be great but the PlayTV is rapidly degrading my standards to a point where I don't mind much.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 26 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Touched by the hand,

    @Ben:

    Apple talks up the M$ rivalry.

    Not really -- mainly when Microsoft bends over and tapes a "Kick me" sign to its arse. Now that Vista is over there'll be no more "Hi, I'm a Mac" ads, according to Justin Long.

    At the iPhone 4 event about the only thing Steve Jobs had to say about Microsoft was that the new phone will have improved interoperability with MS Exchange, which doesn't sound much like war to me. The Apple hierarchy understand that their main business is hardware, with lucrative sidelines in content provision and now advertising.

    On the other hand I wonder about Microsoft's sense of purpose. When the head of its business products division can blithely announce it won't be porting Office to the iPad -- is this the same Microsoft that leaped into the Macintosh software business in the 1980s and has been pumping big bucks out ever since? Apparently not. No wonder its market cap is so stagnant.

    Even Adobe, which has far more reason to feel abused by Apple, is turning out software for the iPad, and some of it is said to be pretty good.

    Ben, of course web standards mean we're all one big happy data-swapping family now but that doesn't eliminate the possibility of someone coming along and dominating a new(ish) platform they've (more or less) invented and for which they control the primary channel for content and software. Especially if that platform fills a long-standing need in the general populace. That's capitalism.

    The whirring sound I hear now is coming from the ashes of my Stalinist Mum spinning in the urn on my mantelpiece.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 26 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Touched by the hand,

    @ Recordari:

    I was being ironic. Couldn't you tell?

    I assumed you were but preferred to ignore it to reiterate my loathing and contempt for that video clip. And, um, you weren't a Mac user in 1981, because they weren't invented until 1984, when I started using them. I expect you meant Apple user.

    The point of my little anecdotes was that I strongly suspect the iPad's concealment of the gory details of the file system will contribute to making the iPad and its sequels the prevalent device for lightweight day-to-day computing. Like, everyone will use them for reasons that will be so obvious that only dickheads will ignore them. The form factor and the touch screen will help too.

    Frankly, the number of reasonably smart people I've met over the years who don't understand the difference between memory and storage, or who've lost their work somewhere on their hard disks and want me to help find it, is disgraceful. As somebody said a couple of weeks ago, for years the public has been asking the computer industry for elevators and the industry has given them aeroplanes instead -- and then sneered at them for being crappy pilots.

    That said, I won't be buying an iPad myself this year. I've recently finished Hackintoshing my PC (it was that or Windows 7 and really, I've had enough of Windows) which has freed up my BlackBook for casual couch computing and the like. My personal IT budget this year will probably go on replacing my iPhone 3G with the HD model around the middle of the year.

    My Hackintosh, by the way, goes like a rocket powered freight train. Yeeha!

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 26 posts Report Reply

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