Tumblings, Have No Fear

Just don’t fuck­ing ask, okay?

I’ve been play­ing around with iOS apps late­ly, which unfor­tu­nate­ly means con­stant­ly refresh­ing the gor­geous but god­for­sak­en Apple App Store app-wide. Yes­ter­day evening, I hap­pened to tap by the Social category’s top charts and spy a sort of appli­ca­tion I didn’t know exist­ed: a third-par­ty client for the Tum­blr dash­board called “TBR for Tum­blr.” Not only did it exist — it was (and is cur­rent­ly) the #1 Paid Social App on iOS. I found this a bit odd because I remem­bered specif­i­cal­ly going out of my way to write up a very pos­i­tive review on their native app over the sum­mer. After hav­ing gone months with­out even set­ting eyes on its icon, I’d opened it and plod­ded around enough to see that its UI’s ani­ma­tions and image dis­play was far far bet­ter than it’d been the last time I opened the app. I nev­er actu­al­ly write app reviews for the store, but I legit­i­mate­ly thought we might bring back and con­vert some loy­al users (and I do gen­uine­ly believe that good design needs to be ver­bal­ly, intel­lec­tu­al­ly, emo­tion­al­ly and finan­cial­ly more com­pen­sat­ed, of course.)

I’m assum­ing that none of these events have any actu­al cor­re­la­tion at all, but I’m sure you’ve heard that Apple pulled the Tum­blr app from the App Store some­time before Fri­day night and has yet to restore it. Last night, they explained that they’d found child pornog­ra­phy some­where on the plat­form, for which it’s very hard to decide whom is to blame. A first pos­i­tive I have to offer you: right now, lets appre­ci­ate that more of this con­tent does not make it past our com­plex safe­guards and on to the open web. Let us also take a moment to explain to any unfa­mil­iar (or per­haps extreme­ly elder­ly) read­ers that it was not the com­pa­ny who made the ser­vice and soft­ware called Tum­blr that was “serv­ing child pornog­ra­phy,” but rather an assort­ment of their indi­vid­ual users.

Every image uploaded to Tum­blr is scanned against an indus­try data­base of known child sex­u­al abuse mate­r­i­al, and images that are detect­ed nev­er reach the plat­form. A rou­tine audit dis­cov­ered con­tent on our plat­form that had not yet been includ­ed in the indus­try data­base. We imme­di­ate­ly removed this con­tent.” -Tumblr’s live tick­et for the Novem­ber 16th issue.

It’s com­plete­ly under­stand­able that Tum­blr users are dis­ap­point­ed, fright­ened, and/or angry, but I’d like to briefly touch on just a few rea­sons why none of these events need be the end of Tum­blr. if any­thing, there’s an oppor­tu­ni­ty here for a seri­ous rework of its fun­da­men­tal struc­ture.

  1. There is a third-par­ty soft­ware devel­op­ment scene for Tum­blr, which could like­ly be redesigned or slight­ly tweaked to cir­cum­vent any fur­ther law and/or pol­i­cy-vio­lat­ing con­tent — gourd for­bid — and just inter­act with the stuff you want.
  2. Tum­blr was built on The Open Web first and it will still be there when it ticks on its last 60 sec­onds of uptime (which doesn’t have to come any­time soon.) This means that you will always be able to access Tum­blr with a web brows­er. If an account of yours hap­pened to be mis­banned with the rest, you can appar­ent­ly request that it be looked back over and rein­stat­ed.
  3. God may have for­sak­en us, but we can have faith in Open Source: a fed­er­at­ed Tum­blr alter­na­tive is almost cer­tain­ly man­i­fest­ing right now in the mind of a genius web devel­op­er which will no doubt be way faster, more secure, bet­ter look­ing, and ETHICAL AS FUCK.

If fuck­ing Look­book is still around, I can’t imag­ine Tum­blr will ever actu­al­ly have a tru­ly swift death forced upon it, for bet­ter or worse. The key of course is that we all have to stop pan­ick­ing and attempt­ing to archive our entire Tum­blr his­to­ries — yes, it will die with­out any users.

Meet End User

It’s about time I start­ed talk­ing to myself about tech­nol­o­gy in my parked car again. My audio equip­ment is still in stor­age, but I’m fresh out of folks who want to lis­ten to my rants about The Open Web, so I guess I’ll be giv­ing you a call every once in a while. Until yes­ter­day, End User was a missed oppor­tu­ni­ty for a pod­cast title.

Do be sure to vis­it Anchor’s Tech­nol­o­gy fea­tured sec­tion to find (sortof) sim­i­lar pod­casts by hosts who have real diplo­mas, but you cer­tain­ly don’t need one to call in any­time.

 Log­ic Mag­a­zine is required read­ing — start with “Dis­rup­tion: A Man­i­festo.”

Behold the Compaq Comeback

This evening, a pack­age is sched­uled to arrive upon my doorstep con­tain­ing a Com­paq Portable Plus lug­gable com­put­er from 1983 which I have fan­ta­sized about buy­ing for far too many years. Despite liv­ing in the midst of per­haps the worst pos­si­ble finan­cial sit­u­a­tion to spend $139.99 out­right on a rel­ic of com­put­ing, I final­ly just bought one any­way last Thurs­day because I’m absolute­ly fed up with life with­out the mag­ic I remem­ber feel­ing from com­put­ers. Yes, I am hav­ing a mid-life crises and The Machine is just a phys­i­cal man­i­fes­ta­tion of one of my favorite sto­ries, but I expect it will pro­vide some­thing irre­place­able for me and at least one piece of enter­tain­ment for just about any­body: I’m going to start a pho­to­series of myself using the 26-lb., suit­case-like, and utter­ly time-dis­placed Portable Plus in dif­fer­ent cof­fee shops through­out Port­land

There’s also poten­tial oppor­tu­ni­ty (or neces­si­ty) for me to make use of my lim­it­ed knowl­edge of hard­ware elec­tron­ics. I’ve nev­er been very com­fort­able with open­ly using the term “hob­by,” but I ful­ly intend to savor, doc­u­ment, and pre­serve every pos­si­ble detail of my expe­ri­ence, so we’re going to behave as if the tales of com­put­er his­to­ry are pre­cious to a ded­i­cat­ed audi­ence besides myself, and that I am there­by and here­after bind­ing myself to an impor­tant duty of dis­cov­ery, cura­tion, and pre­sen­ta­tion expressed through mul­ti­me­dia of the high­est pos­si­ble cal­iber.

In oth­er words, I’m pret­ty sure I’ve just begun a vin­tage com­put­ing blog. Before we go any fur­ther, then, let’s dis­pense with the oblig­a­tory arrange­ments.

Why Compaq?

Put sim­ply, Com­paq was punk as fuck. Three dorky Tex­an techn­odads pre­med­i­tat­ed their leave of fair, secure jobs in the indus­try in order to bet every­thing on the promise of a sin­gle unde­ni­ably pro-user ide­al to dis­rupt its dom­i­nant monop­o­lis­tic supervil­lian. Unlike any of the count­less oth­er sto­ries from the infor­ma­tion age with the very same intro­duc­tion, theirs was imme­di­ate­ly pro­pelled into stratos­pher­ic, record-break­ing suc­cess — from cof­fee table sketch­es in the waste­lands of sub­ur­ban Hous­ton nights to one bil­lion dol­lars in less than five years, prov­ing that it was pos­si­ble to win huge in tech by com­mit­ting sin­cere­ly to lib­er­at­ing the con­sumer and man­i­fest­ing the ulti­mate per­for­mance of the under­dog com­plex Amer­i­can busi­ness has ever wit­nessed. 

Those of us who’ve main­tained some curi­ous orbit of tech­nol­o­gy have recent­ly entered a rec­on­cil­la­to­ry process as the world has become all at once inti­mate­ly famil­iar with our col­lec­tive pur­suits’ true con­se­quences. Nev­er has it been more appro­pri­ate to reflect on the whole­some brava­do of the only Amer­i­can com­put­er com­pa­ny to build a bil­lion-dol­lar busi­ness atop the sole mantra of user lib­er­a­tion. At a glance one might assume that AMC’s attempt to repro­duce Mad Men’s for­mu­la with a sto­ry set in Compaq’s ori­gin in a series that’s sup­pos­ed­ly attract­ed a fair num­ber of Net­flix­ers called Halt and Catch Fire in con­junc­tion with the 2016 doc­u­men­tary Sil­i­con Cow­boys have suf­fi­cient­ly remind­ed Amer­i­ca of to whom it real­ly owes its priv­i­leged tech indus­try. How­ev­er, a Twit­ter search for “Com­paq” turns up vir­tu­al­ly noth­ing of con­se­quence, and — on the oth­er cul­tur­al spec­trum — I’ve yet to see a sin­gle well-doc­u­ment­ed col­lec­tion of Com­paq hard­ware, and I’m unsat­is­fied.  

Like it not, you’re com­ing with me on a safari back through two full nos­tal­gic cycles to redis­cov­er our won­der and excite­ment about tech­nol­o­gy because I miss it des­per­ate­ly and I know you do too. We’re going to find some­thing mar­velous.

I believe com­put­ers can be mag­ic again.

I believe in Com­paq.

Logitech G203


Is it everything or nothing?

This is by far the most expen­sive mouse I have ever bought at $24.99. It is also per­haps the loud­est piece of com­put­er equip­ment — periph­er­al or oth­er­wise — that I have ever encoun­tered in my entire life with the lit­er­al vol­ume of its click­ing noise, light­ing effects, and the quan­ti­ty of accom­pa­ny­ing bloat­ware. Then again, it is also my first piece of gam­ing gear — a moniker to which I am tech­ni­cal­ly new. A world in which a $50 periph­er­al is con­sid­ered “thor­ough­ly afford­able” is not mine any­more (it nev­er was, but only because of my lim­it­ed ado­les­cent income,) but that’s okay. Per­haps this pur­chase will prove to be the gate­way to my very own Sick Build. Regard­less, my adult life is still full of plen­ti­ful click­ing, and a high-qual­i­ty, “vari­able res­o­lu­tion” mouse should have some sort of place when doing my tax­es, repeat­ed­ly apply­ing for health insur­ance, read­ing dai­ly news for hours, and accu­rate­ly lik­ing Joke Tweets. And — for the sake of a more thor­ough gamer per­spec­tive — I down­loaded all 10GB of Eve Online and clicked around in space for an evening, just in case.

After fif­teen min­utes spent look­ing for the end of the G203’s 6.6-foot USB cable, I plugged it in to my Spec­tre and made the mis­take of man­u­al­ly seek­ing out its Win­dows dri­vers. I thought the 115mb instal­la­tion file was com­i­cal­ly exces­sive for a mouse, but after inad­ver­tent­ly join­ing The G Team, enhanc­ing my new Gam­ing Gear, and appeas­ing the prompt’s request for a reboot, the com­plex­i­ty of the soft­ware more than jus­ti­fied its foot­print, if not its exis­tence.

Nat­u­ral­ly, I was thrilled to opt-in to let my new mouse speak to its moth­er­ship, hop­ing that it would even­tu­al­ly men­tion my hands, which are by far my most flat­ter­ing fea­ture (also, it would be nice if it told them how awk­ward it is to use its soft­ware as long as it remains exempt from UI scal­ing.) Then, the one hun­dred and sev­enth edi­tion of my mouse’s update tool sug­gest­ed that I down­load high­er per­for­mance! (Appar­ent­ly “DPI” means “Dots Per Inch,” and I’m sure 8000 of them is an upgrade from my old roller­ball!)

By default, the huge­ly bright LEDs on the G203 cycle smooth­ly through the col­or­band, which is desir­able to some­one on Earth, I’m sure, but I do not know of them. Come to think of it — out of all of the many Gamers I’ve known and con­versed with about every top­ic imag­in­able, I’m almost pos­i­tive that their own mice — or com­put­er mice as a whole, real­ly — have nev­er come up. Even for these, life is too short to search Con­sumer Reports for com­put­er mouse reviews, but per­haps all of us are in error. I only pur­chased the G203 because all of the majesty of Columbia’s Best Buy (appar­ent­ly the hold­er of the “Worst Best Buy Store in the World” title not so long ago) was sold out of all mice with­in what I then con­sid­ered to be a rea­son­able price range, and it was the one of the remain­ing “expen­sive” but still doable options with the high­est reviews upon a briskly skimmed Google search. Now, I think I can see why. There is a cer­tain qual­i­ty in the way it feels that I’ve clear­ly been miss­ing out on amidst my as-yet-life­long habit of using the cheap­est, knock­off-brand periph­er­als.

First: that ser­rat­ed scroll wheel! Wow! Incre­ment­ed scrolling was the shit, wasn’t it? Can you actu­al­ly read while you two-fin­ger ges­ture scroll? I’m pret­ty sure I can’t, regard­less of how seam­less the expe­ri­ence may or may not be. I can nei­ther imag­ine nor hope this sort of engage­ment — with the web, any­way — will be viable for much longer, but it is a nice option. To be force­ful, notice that options being sort of a theme, here: out of a lack of cheap­er options, I spent a bit more on this, very option-sat­u­rat­ed mouse, and now I can’t move my laptop’s point­er from over six feet away — should I wish — albeit with the oblig­a­tory anx­i­ety over the destruc­tive poten­tial such a teth­er includes, left exposed to the whims of whirling pets or limbs. Of course, you are no doubt won­der­ing why a wired mouse? Isn’t that your whole orig­i­nal lim­i­ta­tion?

Like the smart-mind­ed PC gam­ing enthu­si­ast, I find the poten­tial advan­tages of blue­tooth periph­er­als to be over­shad­owed by their dis­ad­van­tages in a big way. Not so much the inevitable delay of wire­less­ness as was com­mon­ly lament­ed upon by the com­pet­i­tive elite first-per­son-shoot­ers, but the lit­tle slice of bur­den stacked on top of the pile of bat­tery-oper­at­ed devices I already own. Even sans-Tes­la, quartz or smart watch, portable gam­ing con­sole (or, con­sole of any kind with wire­less con­trollers,) tablet, wire­less head­phones, portable speak­ers, eread­er, smart glass­es, and smart jack­et, the pow­er cells in my lap­top, iPhone, and flash­light gen­er­ate plen­ty of charge anx­i­ety enough, and I’d like to hold out for as long as is rea­son­ably fea­si­ble before mul­ti­ply­ing my exist­ing duress. How­ev­er, as per my own obser­va­tions (though not mea­sur­able num­bers,) the G203 seems to be increas­ing the drain on my Spectre’s bat­ter­ies, whether by its huge, always-run­ning soft­ware pres­ence, its phys­i­cal USB draw, or both. Quan­ti­fy­ing the sub­se­quent has­sle of charg­ing my lap­top more often so that it could be mea­sured against that of charg­ing an equiv­a­lent blue­tooth mouse is nei­ther straight­for­ward nor inter­est­ing, but it’s not as if I’ll be using this machine off the charg­er for very much longer after over a year of extreme­ly heavy use.

As long as tools have exist­ed — cer­tain­ly as long as they’ve been sold — they have been divid­ed pri­mar­i­ly into two cat­e­gories: prod­ucts for ama­teurs, and prod­ucts for pro­fes­sion­als. I come from a time when “pro­fes­sion­al gamer” was an oxy­moron (unless you count stuff like snook­er, I guess,) yet now I’m using such a cus­tomiz­able mouse that its hotkeys can be mapped to hotkey map­ping and its sen­si­tiv­i­ty (the dots per inch spec) can be switched “on the fly.” How I’m going to make full use of these func­tion­al­i­ties with­in my word proces­sor has yet to be deter­mined, but when/if it is, it will be com­plete­ly imple­mentable in absolute­ly no time at all. The Log­itech G203 is nei­ther ama­teur nor pro — it is a “prodi­gy,” which from my per­spec­tive has to be an inher­ent­ly nos­tal­gic angle. Top­i­cal­ly, more than any­thing at this moment, I would like to bring the core char­ac­ters of Halt and Catch Fire to life just to show them this mouse, its soft­ware, and all that they are con­stant­ly beg­ging to do togeth­er — like “con­trol­ling [my] Dis­cord client,” what­ev­er the hell that could pos­si­bly mean.

The Log­itech G203 is offi­cial­ly “gamer gear,” but it’s impor­tant to clar­i­fy the term’s mean­ing in both hard­ware and soft­ware for an adult in 2018. And yet, at least it remains over­whelm­ing­ly clear that we will all even­tu­al­ly die.The Log­itech G203 is offi­cial­ly “gamer gear,” but it’s impor­tant to clar­i­fy the term’s mean­ing in both hard­ware and soft­ware for an adult in 2018. And yet, at least it remains over­whelm­ing­ly clear that we will all even­tu­al­ly die.The thing that got us to the thing did so a long time ago — it’s full of nazis and captcha-trained, Pres­i­den­cy-mak­ing Russ­ian robots, now, and my new com­put­er mouse is tak­ing the ini­tia­tive and han­dling all of my cor­re­spon­dence for me. Every­thing is pos­si­ble, but the end is nigh. The same prac­tices we once used in our youth to bide our time and hide from the truths of our finite exis­tence have grown to encom­pass them as well and left no suf­fi­cient dis­trac­tion with which to replace or reverse them — even obnox­ious­ly loud click­ing and bright spec­trum-cross­ing light shows. Now, we must pro­ceed whole­heart­ed­ly under the weight of the knowl­edge that we will soon reach the ulti­mate final­i­ty of the infi­nite rest, our USB mice in hand.