Bill Gates Goes to War

…well, retirement, actually. Gates leaves Micro$oft today to the surprise of none, having started to transition out 8 years ago, leaving the reins to Steve Ballmer. As an Apple user and borderline fanboy, I have made many jokes about Microshaft and Gates, but despite the BSOD, the frustrations of Vista, and rigging the board in favour of his own monopoly, you have to respect the man, even if his leadership style has often been akin to that of a dic(k)tator. 

It’s also amusing to read all the “well, he’s not that bad, really, and Steve Jobs is kind of a dick, too” type articles popping up these days. After all the moaning and complaints, everybody still wants to be friends. But then, the prerogative of the fool is to speak the truths that others dare not, and at the end of the day, the fool is still a fool, and the king is still the king.

Our first machine was an Apple II (I think – I was 7. All I remember is that it was an Apple, and it had LodeRunner), then dad got something new and I got a C64, which was later upgraded to an Amiga (I just wanted a disc drive for my C64) with 16-bit graphics (awesome!), and 512K memory (kickass!), upgradeable to A WHOLE MEGABYTE (kickass-ier!). When I first got my own PC for schoolwork, I had lost interest in playing games (The guitar had entered my life). Add to that the fact that the PC I bought was a POS, and my love for Windoze never took root. In art school, I returned to the Mac, and when the iMacs first came out, I bought a blueberry iMac running OS 9 (which to be fair was just as frustrating as Windows). When Apple done bring OS X, it was all over for me, and I doubt I’ll ever go back (provided it stays as good). Still, I’ve used PCs for assorted jobs, and once I got used to the shortcuts, it was all right. I’ve still had far, FAR more crashes with PCs than Macs, but a seriously fitted PC running XP is fine to work on. I’ve recently watched my father upgrade to VIsta, and (like many) nearly lose his shit in the process. I know PCs are better if you want to customize and/or build, but if you’re like me and just want a computer that works out of the box, does what you want in the way you want each time, and almost never dies on you…well, shoot me for saying so, but Apple works for me. I should also add that I run Parallels with XP, which has allowed me to play my old Infocom text-only adventures (don’t laugh, damn you!). I sorta regret throwing out my Sierra Games, but then again…I never actually play games anymore, and if I go on a retro game kick, I dust off my Amiga instead.

It will be interesting to see what happens now. Microscoff is struggling in some areas. They still have total dominon, and while Apple is growing ever so slightly, they seem to be headed more for consumer elecronics. Linux is great, but still…I don’t see it taking over anytime soon. Will MS without Gates flail and fail, or will they take the Internet away from Google? 

Well, Bill and wife Melinda will have their work cut out for them with the Gates Foundation. It should be very interesting to see how an engineer’s pragmatic approach to fighting poverty will work. Not much of a retirement, to be sure, but we can certainly wish them good luck!

27.06.2008 • Permalink

A US report from Afghanistan states (written with eyes agog in wide-eyed wonder, one assumes) that the Taliban has become “a resilient insurgency”, ie good at fighting. I never imagined Rambo 3 was perceived as a documentary by US (alleged) Intelligence, but it may be prudent to point out that it was in fact a movie. Yes, the Mujaheddin did receive arms from the US, which they used to fight off the Soviets, but they did the actual fighting. Maybe someone should have looked that up. Just sayin’.

27.06.2008 • Permalink

Jesus Brought the Pork Chops?

George Carlin passed away this week-end. I dug his stuff. When at first I encountered him as Rufus in Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, I had no idea who he was. In fact, I didn’t discover Carlin the comedian until way later, in the last year I lived in the States. The man was hilarious and truthful, he stayed angry until the end of his 71 years, and he was all the better for it. New York Times ran the obit today. 

“I don’t have pet peeves,” he said, correcting the interviewer. And with a mischievous glint in his eyes, he added, “I have major, psychotic hatreds.”

23.06.2008 • Permalink

Rudy on the Rails!

Predictably, Al Gore endorsed Barack Obama yesterday. On the other side of the aisle, some are arguing that John McCain should run with Rudy Guiliani as his Vice President! Running on a platform of 9/11, with some focus on 9/11 as well as a few pointed references to 9/11, Guiliani spent millions of dollars trying to secure the presidential nomination without getting as much as a single delegate. So the idea of him becoming John McCain’s veep is delicious indeed. Imagine: a 5-month dirge from the Hanoi Hilton to 9/11 and beyond, terminating in some faraway land of convergence where the Vietnam war was initiated by Iranian islamofascists and Ho Chi Minh and Osama Bin Laden fight against their American liberators side by side on the streets of Baghdad while the French cheer from the sidelines. McCain/Guiliani: 40 years of fighting Johnny Foreign! While unlovable turncoat Joe Lieberman is a more likely choice, this insane configuration is so ripe with possibility that I simply must endorse it…go on, John: Rudy for veep!

17.06.2008 • Permalink

Stan Winston was one of the gods of special effects and worked on many big movies, such as Aliens, Jurassic Park, Predator and Terminator 2, always bringing the impossible to life. As a fan of many years, I’m bummed I won’t get to see his creations on the screen anymore.

Empire magazine has a big retrospective on the man, so if you’re interested, go have a look.

16.06.2008 • Permalink

Be Here Now (CD)

I found this in the back of the cupboard the other day. Oasis’ 1997 release was accompanied by a tsunami of praise from the British press, and a resounding “meh” from everybody else, myself included. 1995 was a fun year for music: Blur, Oasis, Suede, Supergrass and a bunch of other Britpop bands made accessible pop that celebrated fun rather than the dour existentialism of grunge. (I hasten to add that Superunknown and Dirt are still teh shit!) Still, at that point in my life, I was coming into my own, standing on the threshold of adulthood. At Uni, I discovered the joys of beer and chasing girls and gradually, the “I hate myself and I want to die” ethos lost sway to the whole “Boys & Girls” and “LagerLagerLager” one. 

Anyway, finding Be Here Now was a reminder that not everything about it was great. The amusing rivalry between Oasis and Blur quickly got tiresome, especially when Noel G stated in public that he hoped Blur would catch AIDS and die, or something. I moved to England to study in 1997, and picked up a copy of Mojo to read on the plane. Said Mojo contained Charles Shaar Murray’s review of Be Here Now, and let me tell you, it was the most sycophantic blowjob of a review ever bestowed on a grade-A turd, and I more or less lost faith in Mojo after that. See, I already knew the “album” was a POS; I picked it up the first week and to this day, I have never managed to get through it in one sitting. I think I’ve managed to get through 3 songs in succession, four at the most.

It sounds like cocaine and egos out of control, and not in a good way, either. I don’t think any of the Oasis albums are much cop, to be honest. They are in my head more as a result of the utter ubiquity of them rather than the quality. They had some rousing singles, I suppose, but when you compare their attempts at doing The Beatles to say, Jellyfish, it falls so short as to be embarrassing. Blur’s The Great Escape wasn’t that great either (again, Jellyfish pissed all over them), but it’s a decent, if flawed album.

It was also around this time that Liam Gallagher called out the remaining Beatles for a fight(!) after George Harrison mentioned in an interview that they weren’t quite as good as they themselves reckoned. It was so stupid it beggared belief. George Harrison was in fact a very polite gentleman: Be Here Now is a turd, plain and simple, and I’d really like to give the damn thing way. It’s just that nobody wants it. 

16.06.2008 • Permalink