Category Archives: Technology (Probably Apple)

Dear Apple, FINE, I GIVE UP: Send me an iPad / interocitor / frog exaggerator immediately

Pictured: The Apple iPad, due April 3 (drives sold separately)

GateHouse — Well, as usual, my attempt to avoid coveting a sleek and impractical object produced by the nerd-leprechauns at Apple has lasted until the exact moment they showed a commercial for it on the TV. Thanks, Oscars, not only did you throw my spring budget into chaos with your deliciously tempting ad for an electronic device I couldn’t possibly need but would give me something do with my other hand while I’m futzing with the iPod during the commute, but also you gave Best Costume Design to “The Young Victoria?” Um, did I miss the part where you all became gravy-brained goat-people? Because the costume designs in “The Young Victoria” are a HUMILIATING JOKE WHEN COMPARED TO THE SHATTERING GRANDIOSITY OF THE COSTUME DESIGN OF “COCO BEFORE CHANEL.” This is why real America hates the Hollywood elite; go back to British Columbia and take your Neil Patrick Harris with you, appeasers.

Anyway, I was talking about Apple (for the purposes of finishing this piece I’m turning the Oscar broadcast off before they announce Best Documentary Short because if it isn’t “Music By Prudence” I am going to smash all the windows at the mall). We have all Apple products here at the house, for two very simple reasons:

  1. We deeply enjoy feelings of smug superiority.
  2. They work. Knock on wood, but in four years we haven’t had one notable thing go wrong with either, which, given the amount of illegal music and international pornography I download, is a miracle on par with that time I found the Virgin Mary’s profile in my yogurt swirls. And I really mean this, I’m not just saying it so Apple sees me on their Google Alerts and decides hey we should send this guy some free gear or something just for being so nice and complimentary to us and besides Apple Apple Apple Apple.

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Download: d4ibZl

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Five lightsabers, one walrus, one WordPress and several demolished config. files: A Parable

GateHouse — A short parable for this holiday season, starring .htaccess files, five lightsabers, inessential ambition and egregious, carrying-a-walrus-with-two-hands-over-your-head stupidity:

I am, as anyone who has spent more than four minutes with me and my collection of stories involving personal interactions with “Weird Al” Yankovic (there are six) will attest, a nerd. Not a geek, mind you, nor a dingus, and not really a twerp, although there was a good period of pronounced twerpery between the years of 1987-1989 that cheerfully coincided with the purchase of a new camera by both my Dad and the school yearbook staff. Good times.

The point is, nerd. To wit, I spent Thanksgiving this year at the home of lovely and hospitable friends who have one baby and five lightsabers. Also to wit, I just said to wit, which actually makes me want to beat myself up. Anyway, after dinner the husband component of this couple produced the replica lightsabers — I’m going to stop and do that again with overbearing punctuation: five. replica.lightsabers — and the small percentage of guests who were able to regard this development without releasing a sigh of utter despondency adjourned directly outside and — well, there’s no other way to say this — had a Jedi fight. I would say we did this for the benefit of my five-year-old son, but I’d be lying if I suggested that I found the entire endeavor to be anything south of way awesome.

Anyway, this minor though not entirely un-violent episode coincided with a time in which I decided, hey, you know what, this Internet thing seems to be gaining traction amongst the youngsters and the media, in that order, so let’s see if I can’t get my blog looking a little spiffier and moved to a new host that can make that happen.

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Download: af0mky

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Your TV isn’t hyper-real? Why would you even bother getting out of bed?

TV

Basically what my TV looks like, except mine doesn't have the sweet modern paneling.

GateHouse — You win, World, I will buy a large, shiny new television.

I have to. I am at The Electronics Store (I can’t say the name of it, but it rhymes with Schmest Schmly) right now with my nerd friend – that I have just employed the singular will be a font of great hilarity to those who know me – Morgan, who rules the Information Technology fellowship at my office and is a Certified Mac Specialist Avatar Force Ghost Warlock, or some such multi-syllabic gumbo. I am not sure how one rises to such a rarefied strata, or how many elves one has to kill to get there, but I do know this: I can call Morgan and be three words into describing my little problem, and he can, from the foreboding, “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”-soaked recesses of his personally upgraded memory, almost always solve it without bothering to look up from his heavily salted fast-food meal.

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Me: “So the server isn’t letting me…”
Morgan: (chewing) “Reboot the system profile double right-click on update the preferences and please remove your mouse pad from that peanut butter can I get back to my Beef N’ Cheddar now thanks.”

(This all said, I am nervous about making fun of Morgan, who once proved he can assume full and complete control of my computer from Idaho, so I will now suck up via the following narrative.)

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‘Soul Calibur’ didn’t make my kid an angry mess, but it helped

Attention, nerds: Designing games containing proportions like this will, impossibly, make chicks dig you less.

Island Packet — I’ve never been one to equate childhood exposure to guns/video games with an eventual life of violence; I grew up splitting my time among G.I. Joe, pro wrestling and “Double Dragon II” on the NES, which is why I couldn’t talk to a girl without sweating like a horse until the age of 27, yet I still turned out to be a freaky hippie who has never, to this day, made up reasons to invade another country or even hit another human, although I reserve that particular right if I ever encounter any of the New Kids on the Block, Kid Rock or anyone who appears on cable with the job title of “commentator.”

But when we had the Little Man, we made a plan to try to block him from knowing that video games existed for as long as possible, much like we’re doing with “The Hills,” Burger King and George W. Bush. This is, of course, futile. Already he’s got a little friend who shows up at the house carrying a video game four times a day, asks us if we have PlayStation four times a day, and when we respond in the negative four times a day, stares at us blankly like we just tried to teach him unified string theory through interpretive dance, four times a day.

But there’s a saying about the best-laid plans for a reason, and my son arrived home last weekend to find his dad and some friends engaged in a fierce PlayStation 3 game titled “Soul Calibur.” This was big, big news to my boy’s sponge-brain, as Dad is not a video-game guy, the last game he played with any regularity being Super Mario Bros. 3 in 1993, though, to be fair, Dad rocked Super Mario Bros. 3’s face off.

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Diary Of A Gmail Outage, or, Liveblogging Gmailfail ’09

technical-difficulties

3:53 p.m: Whoa, what the hell?

3:54 p.m.: No, what the hell?

3:55 p.m.: WHAT THE FLIPPING HELL?

3:57 p.m.: Is this just me?

3:58 p.m.: Wait, is this my fault? I did download the Avett Brothers leak this morning. Or was that a virus? Did the Avett Brothers foul up my Mac? Can the IT department see that? Where’s my passport? Is my resume updated? OH GOD, IT’S IN MY GMAIL.

3:59 p.m.: Oh thank goodness, it’s not just me, it’s everybody. Wait, IT’S EVERYBODY! GMAIL IS DOWN. CRIMINY ON A SALTINE CRACKER, WHAT AM I SUPPOSED TO DO NOW?

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So, wait, pirates are jerks now?

pirates_04

Hrmph, what cheek

GateHouse — As we get older, many of the most rewarding, meaningful components of our childhoods — the things we drew close to in our most absorbent years — get pushed away, faded, knocked off our consciousness like tin cans being shot off a fence with a BB gun, assuming people still do that sort of thing. I wouldn’t know, because I spent the years usually reserved for outside kid-stuff inside doing things like watching the “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” movie on VHS repeatedly and becoming extensively familiar with the back catalog of Skid Row, thanks to the BMG Music Service, who I’m dead certain I’ve yet to pay for my “Slave to the Grind” tape (guys, that check is so not coming).

For male nerds of a certain age, this happened as soon as that weird Japanese flop-mouthed alien started burbling about trade route taxation in “The Phantom Menace.” Myself, according to the box of CDs I just pitched out of a very dark, spider-covered corner of the attic, I apparently was once owner of the Poison CD with “Unskinny Bop” on it, something for which no apology would ever be truly enough.

And now I am having that problem with pirates.

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Jimmy Buffett – A Pirate Looks At 40 / Redemption Song (live)

    Download: 9LbiPU

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    Famous Celebrities: Please tweet with less ferocity

    rainn_wilson2GateHouse — I’ve been on Twitter for a few weeks now, and I’m liking it pretty well except that Rainn Wilson WILL NOT LEAVE ME ALONE.

    Rainn Wilson of course plays Dwight on “The Office,” and he exists as @rainnwilson in Twitterland and is one of a growing number of celebrity Twitterers, which is a word that you can say a thousand times while still never sounding like a grownup. Twitter, of course, is the Web service on which you post updates of 140 characters or less that has been christened the MOST IMPORTANT WEB SERVICE EVER, so you might as well delete your stupid loser Facebook or Digg or whatever, to say nothing of you consumer-mall juiceboxes still on MySpace, if that’s even still on.

    The point of Twitter is to celebrate and rejoice in the short attention span, so, hypothetically, if you’ve been born with relentless ADD tendencies and can’t get your mind focused on so much as writing a lousy humor column without your itchy right hand drifting, literally outside your control, over to the IM window, or God forbid the unholy hellbutton that lets you log in to Facebook, it will probably kill you in days.

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    Twitter = Shaqtasticness

    mask_shaqGateHouse — Big week here at the house: I’m on Twitter, which is good, since I’ve been eagerly seeking out inventive new ways to spend more time staring at a computer. (Does anyone know at which age permanent iMac-borne corneal damage scorching can occur, and is it in the 30s? Would it help if I wore goggles, or will those do nothing?)

    I’m wicked late with the Twitter thing, of course. I was late to the Facebook party, too; I was sort of dragged into it by the children I work with. Needless to say, I’m now on it like eight hours a day, although, in my defense, all of those hours occur at work.

    But in joining Twitter, I am legitimately trailing all of the nation’s cool kids as well as the following: Shaquille O’Neal, everyone I went to college with, Barack Obama (or at least some army of MacBooks in his employ), Lance Armstrong, about 17 million hack reporters on cable news stations, Dwight from “The Office,” Dave Matthews (of the Dave Matthews Band, the page I’m looking at helpfully informs me, so as not to indicate that’s Dave Matthews, Earth science teacher and assistant basketball coach at Kouts North High School), Al Gore (pfft, of course), fake Clarence Clemons, MC Hammer, and John McCain. To repeat: JOHN MCCAIN WAS ON TWITTER WELL BEFORE ME. It’s not like I was ever dying to get on Twitter or anything, but that’s a little like when your Dad purchases an iPhone and asks if it gets long distance.

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    SCARLETT JOHANSSON IS A CLONE, according to this grammatically troubled e-mail I have just received

    star_wars_the_clone_wars_03_1152

    Pictured: Scarlett Johansson

    GateHouse — I have an urgent alert regarding Scarlett Johansson, whose name I am including here in the lead partly because it introduces the column, and mostly because it will totally increase my Google hits. Scarlett Johansson Scarlett Johansson Scarlett Johansson Scarlett Johansson. I am all about metadata up in here.

    This morning I received an important e-mail from a mysterious character who identified himself only as “Serge G.” (No relation to Warren.) Serge is pretty obviously either an international superspy, mustachioed evil genius or has come here from the future. Because Serge’s missive WARNS ME about STOLEN BIOLOGICAL MATERIAL, and somewhat less capitalized-ly, trouble involving the Human Cloning Prohibition Act of 2007 regarding Scarlett Johansson, who, his e-mail’s subject line helpfully clarifies, is an actress. So we’re not talking about Scarlett Johansson the regional marketing manager for TiresPlus. Let’s be clear about that.

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    Download: 9QkV4n

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    Google Street View: Google now knows how little attention I pay to my lawn

    Island Packet – I feel just awful complaining about the people at Google, because they have single-handedly streamlined, by an incalculably exponential margin, the amount of time I spend looking online for music to steal and pictures of Scarlett Johansson. I feel like I should send them a thankful-tasting pie or something, but I also have in my head that they’re very cool people, and would graciously demur with a tap on the heart and a shake of the head like, no, dude, don’t worry about it, we got you.

    So please, Good Nerds of the Google Office, Which I Imagine To Be A Giant Shiny Wind-And-Corn-Oil-Powered Cube Floating Somewhere Near Tahiti, don’t take this personally. I am not upset with you, even though you have insanely awesome jobs, health benefits that I can only dream of (like, for instance, dental), holidays off, ping-pong and pinball tables in your offices, a free in-house gourmet cafeteria and I’m sure some sort of indoor neon go-kart track, with lasers.

    But like those of many other residents of the area — except Dick Cheney if he’s around, which wouldn’t surprise me as his aging mechanical exoskeleton is refueled by the sun — my home recently has materialized on Google Street View, an online functionality that offers panoramic 360-degree street mapping (when writing about technology issues, it helps to throw around majestic-sounding buzzwords that make it sound like you are attempting to jam a multitude of bowling pins into your mouth) that allows users to virtual-walk down your virtual-street and see firsthand how little actual attention you’re paying to your actual lawn.
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