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 Userwas 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.
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.
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 dollarsin 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 Cowboyshave 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.
“True Tone” is so forgettable, everybody had to mention it first. Quite simply, it uses an ambient light sensor to fiddle with white balance, warming the colors of the display as an immediately-obvious whole, yes, but an interesting contrast to show off is no longer inherently justified in being called a “feature” in Apple products, anymore. Essentially, no matter who you ask (aside from Jon Rettinger,) you should not buy an iPhone 8, though I did last Fall, not only because I had to suddenly decide on a handset in less than 24 hours, but – if anything – to say goodbye to the form, the operating system, and the tech company which I have depended upon and carried with me virtually every day for my entire adult life. I’d originally decided to abandon this review due to a variety of unexpected circumstances, but Apple and its iPhone have maintained their place in the news with their battery scandal, and a third of a year with the 8 Plus has included some experiences which warrant a send-off before iOS 12 is released, making it (and myself) totally irrelevant forever.
As the longstanding benchmark of the smartphone industry’s state at any given time, the iPhone can be easy to reflect upon as a product once occupying a state of universal exemption from criticism, but it has, in fact, never been so. As Nilay Patel noted, one might regard the 8 as the last compromise of “basically four years” of the same design. Since launch, it’s unsurprisingly stayed a wee bit too far behind on the spreadsheets for most Android-type folks – not that I’ve ever believed them truthfully incapable of comprehending what it means to package a product, given where their greasy startups all eventually ended up. (You cannot doubt me – I once took a year-long sabbatical from iOS with a Sony Xperia Play, and my authority is absolute.) The rest are trying to decide whether or not to pay $200 more for “the phone of the future,” which knows when you’re watching it, and is only good for playing half an hour of stupid video games before it needs a charge.
So far, I have maintained that my first generation iPhone was the best handset of all time — one hell of an Email Machine that lasted me close to five years — throughout the last two with actual motherboard exposed to the elements in the corner of its cracked screen. That said, who knows how it’d feel to be coerced into using “iPhone OS 2” as it was called, then, for an entire workday in 2018? Two years prior to bringing home an 8 Plus, I vowedthat my 6S Plus would be my last ever Apple device, but this one actually feels like a last hurrah. Though the ability to Tweet directly from the swipe-down notification menu is still nowhere to be found (it’s been gone for 5 releases, now, and would seem to have been forgotten by literally everyone but myself,) one gets the sense that Apple’s efforts to add to the iPhone 8 and iOS 11 were to make amends with us by settling a few debts.
In part, they did. Native apps got a major overhaul – including Mail, which was startling, considering that I’d been looking at what was near as makes no difference the same UI my eldest phone shipped with. As a result, it alone constitutes my benchmark for an email service, and I have been left without a clue as to what a good one looks like. (Apparently it was really bad?) Since time began, there has always been at least one alternative email app of the moment that tech journos refer to as the must-have, end-all replacement. Edison Mail is currently the smoother, faster, most modular option – at least for another few minutes – but I’ll never know it as I know Mail, and I’ll never want to. Playing around with experimental email apps is too scary. What if I decide once again to kill that massive number in the red badge and need to immediately mark 40,000 emails as read? It took all of my iPhone 4’s 1.0Ghz CPU and proprietary software over 18 hours – how am I supposed to trust a shabby little 6-month-old startup with such an important task? Anybody with a hundred bucks can make an app, you know.
One might interpret the App Store’s redesign as an attempt by Apple to control this conversation — of both the trending new thing and the old “essentials” that you’ve probably had tucked away in an untouched folder for years. Technically, whoever the hell is writing those gorgeously-presented daily bits has made them a publishing company, though I’m not so sure I’m not the last remaining user who’s continued semi-regularly visiting their “Today” section. If I did want to actually read about apps (I don’t — who does?) it wouldn’t make much sense to seek critical reviews from the faceless boffins behind the platform itself, regardless of how much better it may look than all of the tech news sites, paywall or no.
Native screen recording could conceivably come in handy once or twice, but I see no reason why the red bar must remain at the top of the render, but it has, which could explain the total lack of any such video in the wild. Front-facing 4K, 60fps capture is impressive, but useless — vloggers all have GoPros or DSLRs, these days, and sharing through Snapchat and Instagram will always be ultra-compressed. (Here are two sloppy test clips — at the zoo, and fishing.)
Perhaps some have figured out the new Files “app,” but it’s sat on my homescreen for months, untapped, and it will likely remain there for all time as a sort of soothing trophy — a thanks for my legacy iPhone loyalty. My reward for half a lifetime of syncing, scrolling, and tolling? I can now view some of the files on my Mobile Computing Device, and even scan documents in, which is mostly novel (though it is fun to digitize excerpts from physical text.) At some point, I must’ve mischecked a permanent option because all file types now open only in an app that does not recognize them. God bless.
Somehow, I’ve managed to fill my social circle with precisely zero iOS-using folks. All of my friends and colleagues use Android devices (including Tim’s supercool Nextbit Robin,) which provide a few handy datapoints (like the camera in my fiance’s Galaxy S8,) but deprive me of any significant experience with the ostensibly intoxicating cult of iMessage. I’m constantly listening to and reading tech writers claim that it’s one of the only reasons they’re still using iPhones, but my own food-OS loving biome has forced me to find others, and frankly, I can’t imagine looking at the gluttonouspalate of available mobile, cross-platform messaging services (Telegram, now Telegram X, WhatsApp, Signal, Snapchat, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Discord, Slack, Tinder?, Google Hangouts, Google Allo, Google Chat, Viber, Skype, Line, Wire, etc.) and thinking… well, none of this will do!
Honestly — even if I’d actually been at all informed in my haste, the photographic capabilities of the 8 Plus, alone would’ve sold it. It’s not the new filters, gif functionality, or even “3D Photos” — it’s those mythical dual 12MPsensors (which it shares with something called the iPhone X.) They’re no less than infallible. After four months of astonishing captures in all manner of conditions, I don’t even care how exactly they do it anymore — it’s better to be left marveling. This first example was taken at Keystone, Colorado in the middle of a dark, cloudy Fall night -the amount of light they were able to find — “up to 80% more,” according to Apple — is just impossible.
Here is an unquestionably sensible progression from which iPhone has never wavered far since its fourth generation set the standard, but it’s one of an unfortunate few. Siri is still useless and silly apart from its “disable all alarms” feature and its ability to sound itself off in response when you’re hysterically screaming and digging for it through the vast plush of a forty-year-old Lincoln. The customizable Control Center makes toggling low power mode, orientation lock, wifi, and bluetooth less frustrating (note the last two aren’t quite hard switches,) though it should’ve come years ago. Notifications are slightly more sensible — certainly better than they were on Android Gingerbread, but I’ve heard things’ve changed quite a bit since then.
I have been tripped up by the lack of a 3.5mm audio jack a few times, but it just wouldn’t make sense from a hardware perspective, and the new external stereo capability should refute those who can’t or won’t understand. Yes, it would be nice if Apple hadn’t led the industry to quite such a compromising obsession with thinness — we’d all trade a lot of substance for exponentially greater battery life, storage capacity, water resistance, etc. — but I don’t see much sense in expending your energy holding up signs in Silicon Valley.
Two years ago, a new generation of social apps and the preposterous notion of a quad-core CPU in my iPhone 6SPlus seemed like the harbinger of a world I no longer understood. Now, most of those services have expanded to the far boundaries of my reach, and I’ve stopped counting chips. Refinement of the hardware design is reverent to the extreme. It’s pretentious, but Apple’s decision to pause on the 8 to consider details like stuffing the legal text in the software and adding a little bit of weight back in for ergonomics’ sake leads one to regard it as a monument to all the devices along the development timeline that have led to this… last triumph. Or, it would have perhaps, had they not sold so many.
One could argue that good execution of consumer electronic design means minimizing as much as possible the obstructions in the way of the user completing any given task, and the iPhone 8 Plus has surpassed the vast majority of these for myself — and I am, surely, a “power user.” iOS has changed a lot in the decade I’ve employed it — in far too many ways for the worse — but this pair of handset and software have reached my imagination’s limit for what I could possibly want to do. Augmented reality and wireless charging won’t ever have a place in my future, for better or worse. Face ID is much too peculiar. Surely, this iPhone is the ultimate expression of the first and fourth generation’s foundation.
If the 6S Plus was indeed the key to my immortality, I’m afraid the 8 Plus heralds my imminent demise. Whether or not it’s an early one is for you to decide. This really is my last iPhone.
Today, after positing on whether or not a pastry was in fact the namesake of the battleship Bismarck, I was told by its owner — a local woman of a far-from-excusable age — that “[I] should be on that big bang show.” Upon such fuckery, I looked her in her eyes and informed her that she’d just changed my plans for the night: I was now going to go home, wrap my lips around the barrel of my Beretta, and blow my brains out. I should’ve known better than to so jest with a boomer immediately after receiving such glaring indicators of minimal intellectual function, but I fell for the hope — as I often do, to no avail — that such a jarring reaction would encourage reflection on her foul, tragically misled sentiments regarding the general state of youth, and perhaps even spare a peer or two from future tribulation.
Instead, she called the police.
Three round cops found me, an hour later, approaching hesitantly. Strangely enough, they were chuckling — maybe to a little joke about all the recent hubbub on the radio covering a recent wave of blatantly negligent medical care in American prisons, though I hope nervous laughter is just SOP when responding to a suicide threat. As all Columbia cops always are toward me, they were aggravatingly genuine and hilariously understanding. I began by simply recreating my interaction with their summoner, quoting her word-for-word, and — I swear to my new Lord — all three immediately released a choral “ohhhhh” in unison. I’ll never know for sure if they actually assimilated the reality of the situation so quickly, but it’d certainly seem that way.
Clearly, I should’ve threatened her life.
Despite the day-to-day expression of our recurring wisdoms, habits, instincts, patterns and cycles of cultural metamorphosis in the discourse, the stream of “well, you know they were sayin’ the world was going to end when I was in elementary school” to my ear has fallen abruptly silent since the inauguration. Our parents and grandparents are both impossibly fortunate and unfortunate, having to duck out as the most multiplicative (read: sickest) cerebral orgy in the history of mankind will just’ve begun nibbling on the slope to its climax. We’ll be lucky if we’ll still be able to articulate our goodbyes by the time they reach the door. Nonsense does a fuckin number on perceived wisdom, but the gaps are widening at a dangerous pace. Tectonic or domestic, we are all straddling expanding space, and the chill of its draft is now stealing too much of our heat to ignore.
Though it is entertaining in the moment (and otherwise redundant,) it would not be well-to-do of me now — nor was it, then — to leave the conversation in edgy absurdity. Though a part of me would like to campaign for Sheldon to be reclassified as an expletive, in disgust, I must — as an adult in all-out sprint to make up for stalled emotional development — note that such a display of concern should’ve been at least reciprocated with a bit of explanation, if not appreciation, though I won’t condone wasting public employee time for a misunderstood retort from a complete stranger.
It’s not news — the Theory is providing some ghoulishly skewed portrayal of less-than-forty pseudointellectuals. Though my savior’s time is obviously worth very little to her, the fact that she spent any quantity of anything at all engaging with even a decidedly mainstream generationally ambassadorial bridge could be regarded — if stretched — as the result of a curious seed, which has skyrocketed in human value, as of late. It is undiscouragable. Read the trail a bit, and you’ll find that your frustration is simply an expression of the terror that’s ignited by the stagnancy of their pace.
It’s great that you’ve managed to inch over to modern-ish sitcoms from Judge Judy and Independence Day, mom, but you’re gonna have to really pick up the pace and work on following a few body modification communities on the darknet.
If an absence of solutions are the crux of the blog, here I’m now gloating.
To whom does the commoner look to for such solutions when they’d prefer not to terrorize their kooky middle age parents into a half century of brutal fasting under vows of silence?
The Big Thinkers! The Men of the Hour.
Yes, men. All Big Bumbling Billionaire Imbeciles.
Elon Musk cannot be the Nicola Tesla of the 21st century, or even the 20th, for that matter, because literally every mechanically-minded professional I’ve ever heard talk about battery technology has condemned it in some manner as an inescapable dead end, developmentally. Perhaps, then, the champion of electrochemical storage is the* False Prophet.
No, I’m not capable of citing research or conjuring Mars-capable spacecraft, but I’ve been a bit too preoccupied with my country’s class war and its 10% adult illiteracy rate. It’s all well and good to be privy to romanticism, but it’s not the 1960s anymore. Even Howard Hughes would be more concerned for the wellness of the species than our continued reach for the stars, were he still alive.
Well. Maybe not… Charles Lindbergh would be, though.
We spent the 1990s preparing to rid ourselves of history because the smartest among us foresaw some facsimile of the renaissance we are currently experiencing. If they’dT been shown a glimpse of some statistics on the volume of media we consume, they’d exclaim of their pride — no doubt — in their species’ capability to progress, and perhaps even their own contribution to it. However, extended observation of an average American’s day-to-day life would be lamented, in disgust, and a huge portion of the blame can be placed on one t-shirt-touting cyberyokel: Mark Zuckerberg. His name is stupid, his spawn is ruining my life, and he continues to insist upon saying shit that frightens the bejesus out of me. Zuckbrain is fucking scary. “Wiring the globe” is fucking scary. Jarvis is fucking scary. But Fuck, himself wouldn’t be at all intimidating without his money. The scariest bit is the lack of class in the criticisms of his intellectual influence. Farhad Manjoo’s attention has been diligent and premium as a Timeser’s should be, but the same occupation bars him from authoring with the color of unsubstantiated claims. Mine does not.
Elon Musk is not an apologetic genius. He’s willing to joke about his intellectual distance from the planet and its populace on Twitter. Apparently, his mind’s even surpassed the need to punctuate. Crazy.
Google is well on it’s way to becoming the neo-Vatican… yada yada yada, but they’re too far gone — I do not have the expertise to address them. Fuck, though, is a singular short-sleeved, Even Stevens-haired young man without so much as private office space (even though his sentiments on breathing room at home are obviously inverse.)
Clearly, it’s all just to protect him from the truth:
The Apostle John’s Book of Revelation is about Facebook.
Fuck’s cyberchild is the horseman, the beasts, and the plagues, stuffed into one tyrannical website.
And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name.
If I can repeatedly trigger accidental voice calls on Fuckbook Messenger, don’t tell me it’s not possible to inadvertently live stream myself on the pot.
The beast that thou sawest was, and is not; and shall ascend out of the bottomless pit, and go into perdition: and they that dwell on the earth shall wonder, whose names were not written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, when they behold the beast that was, and is not, and yet is.
Of course, it’s unlikely that Mark’s essence was bred entirely of evil, but — like Tump, in many ways — he is an excruciatingly wealthy idiot. Though he is spending 2017 touring the United States, he doesn’t seem to be all that interested in actually closing the gap between himself and the rest of us, which suggests that he only wants us to throw us off his extra-terrestrial, xenophobic scent. I can’t imagine what The Mothership would really want with my Amazon browsing history, though.
And another angel came out of the temple, crying with a loud voice to him that sat on the cloud, Thrust in thy sickle, and reap: for the time is come for thee to reap; for the harvest of the earth is ripe.
Just to be clear, he is not The Antikhristos. He’d better not be, anyway. I’d be absolutely Livid with Lucifer if his choice of a figurehead for his Big Plan was such a Fucking dork .
I mean… if Fuck wanted to spend his time crafting 6000-word essays, why the Fuck didn’t he just build a Fucking CMS back in his Jesse Eisenberg era instead of the actual weekly-updated tower of digital Babylon? Surely, Satan would know better than to waste resources and pulverize creativity by ordering his Demonic Dev team to release regular builds for build’s sake rather than on a per-need basis, but that’d be because The Tempter is an authority on incentives as thoroughly as Fuck isn’t.
If you’re equipped with the privilege of literacy, you’ve been reading a lot about Fuckbook’s political consequences, recently. Frankly, it’s about Fucking time, but I’m compelled to emphasize that the most significant motor driving the politik is fueled by the eldest, fossilized portions of our thought meat. According to Manjoo, “the News Feed team’s ultimate mission is to figure out what users want,” dipping in Fuckbook’s ocean of action data, searching for a soul.
Yet another Fuckism that suggests he’s an alien: everybody knows that nobody knows what they want.
There’s a central mechanic of our brains that by nature wreaks a whole helluva lot of contradiction. If you’ve ever mentioned ADHD with your doctor, or know a hypochondriac/adderall fiend who has, you may have heard it described as “the lizard brain.” Simply put, it’s the brain stem, and it’s responsible for the most basal and primitively emotional instincts and habits; an anti-intellectual agitant, arguing at all times for the course of action with the most immediate gratification. The Great Clickbait War of 2013 was a startling demonstration that revealed the strength of the hold Fuckbook had (and still has) on these reptilian bits — the true location of its power.
“In surveys, people kept telling Facebook that they hated teasing headlines. But if that was true, why were they clicking on them?”
Volition is the Word of the Day.
Here, we must once again invoke an ancient parable from the wise foretellings of the Disney film, Smart House: when dealing with human beings, boundless compliance quickly leads to abject misery for all parties involved.
Mindlessly, habitually , endlessly clicking … this is how we die.
Something about Fuck’s direction is fundamentally poisonous to the human mind. Yes, he is assuredly too Fucking democratic, but misinformation is far from the only form of evil his creation has assumed. If you can jog your memory back a bit, you’ll remember a much wider variety of brain-rotting filth.
In lapses of their existences’ finitude, the 40-something second cousins of the world may still send you the occasional Can Crunch Saga invite, jarring you back to Jr. High in 2009, and forever associating themselves in your mind with the horrors of mortality and
f u c k b o o k g a m e s .
More than one sixth of all living eyes see Fuckbook every single day, placing its consumption behind only eating and drinking as the most universally human activity. Mr. Fuck achieved his vision and became perhaps the greatest purveyor of words who’s ever lived. He’s taught (or… is teaching) us a few very profound things about ourselves.
Capability is not the whole of the equation. Ability on its own cannot guarantee growth, but it can often result in decay. Discussion does not inherently lead to connection. Population is not a cure for isolation.
That said, I must begrudgingly admit to you that I, myself am one of the 100 million users who’ve depended upon a “very meaningful” Facebook group for a “physical support structure” for which I have Fuck to thank.
I’ve spent half of my existence watching cheesy barnstorming movies, whirling around die-cast biplanes, seeking out stories from old pilots — military and commercial, and eventually trained to become one myself. As regular activities at young ages do, aviation became deeply ingrained into my identity, but my local community is very sparse — it’s not exactly cool, these days. On Fuckbook, an unofficial group for members of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association has allowed me to stay connected to the rest of the world’s Soaring Nerds, which is no small deal. It’s the only forum which I am compelled to participate in with 100% sincerity and emotional effect.
Photos of members standing proudly next to their first airplane, or of adolescent students in a similar pose after their first solo, or of three old white rubes on a hangar picnic, laughing around a fold-up table full of rudimentary ham sandwiches in front of two gleaming Stearmans…
They tug around on my heart like nothing else in life can.
I stopped flying lessons at 16 because I began to see behind the naivety of my childhood perception of what it meant to fly commercially and realized that I was unequipped for- and uninterested in the sort of challenges it presented. I haven’t flown in seven years, but the community will always have a tremendous dividend of my core being.
These days, not a single person in my day-to-day life knows or cares about aviation, which wouldn’t be laudable whatsoever were it not so emotionally necessary for me.
A few days ago, a member shared a photo with the group of Charles Lindbergh’s modified Ryan cockpit, captioned “what airplane am I?”
In my youth, Lindbergh fulfilled my closest equivalent to the ‘childhood hero’ role. My grandmother bought me a first-edition copy of The Spirit of St.Louis from a small town bookshop when I was six or seven, and I carried it literally everywhere with me until middle school. I watched the Jimmy Stewart film tens and tens of times, and I cried when I saw the Spirit in the flesh at the Smithsonian, yet I’ve never had an informed conversation about any of it with another human being. It really warmed me to see how many of the comments were correct answers.
Breaking news: it’s nice to know that there are other people on Earth who give a shit about the same things you do.
Again — aspiration should always be encouraged. This is Fuck’s vision for his creation, and it is feasible, even for myself. At least his public persona — however valid or invalid it may be — is making a huge effort to have positive consequence, even if his idiocy is imbuing itself in all of humanity. Fuck is too powerful to be exempted from responsibility for what Fuckbook’s done to the Western psyche over the past decade, but — like the Christian god — perhaps all we need require is his repentance.
He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still.