Two posts enter, one post leaves

>> Tuesday, February 12, 2008

I'm having intermittent internet problems with the new Road Runner service. There are several possibilities, which is unfortunate, because I would really like for there to be only one possibility that I could sit down and solve in fairly short order, patting myself on the back and calling myself a Certified Genius in my best Marvin The Martian voice.

But no, no such luck. One possibility is that Time Warner is having regional outages that they're trying to fix. Or, to be more precise, that the regional outages they're presently apologizing for having are affecting my online access. A friend in town who also has Time Warner is apparently also having problems; this would tend to support the "regional outage" hypothesis.

But there are other possibilities. It's possible that the Apple AirPort Express I'm using again for my home wireless is configured wrong. I stopped using it for several months because AT&T provided me with a wireless router for my DSL. I may need to sit down with it and tweak it.

The AirPort Express is a good example of the light side/dark side of Apple's design ethos. It's a mysterious little white box with a single light on the side that almost "just works"--if you use a Mac, it pretty much does just work, if you use Windows to configure it, you have to install some software from the CD they provide. (The Linux machine can connect to the router, but can't configure it unless someone has hacked an interface... maybe I should check....) This mystery is glowy and awesome when everything is good, but when things are bad... well... you know, Crom is a harsh and unforgiving god and men should hope to stay beneath his notice. Seriously, though: when things are bad, they're blinky and yellow and that's all you really know.

The AirPort's cyclops eye is green now, but that might mean nothing. It could be that I have managed to set up a perfectly functional wireless network that I'm not properly connecting to. Still, I suspect the AirPort isn't the issue. Suspect.

The third possibility, of course, is that the technician from Time Warner who showed up Saturday didn't know what he was doing. This is possibly the worst hypothesis, since it means there's nothing I can do except call, and sit on hold, and complain, and wait.

There are a few other unlikely possibilities--bad hardware, gremlins, the ancient Indian graveyard beneath my condo....

What I have right now by way of internet access is that I can transmit and download, but slowly. And when I try to connect to GameSpy I get timeout errors or a 3-second ping (you read that correctly and I didn't mistype). And yet I actually did get a clean link to GameSpy briefly last night--this inconstancy leads me to believe it's the first possibility, and I just had bad luck with the timing of my switchover.

But we'll see.

Because of the problems I'm having with sluggish connections, I'm cramming two posts together. Or perhaps three. Normally, I think I'd just pop up one or two short link-posts and snide comments about the Vista and New Line lawsuits. They could be separate, or you could file them both under "lawsuit" and "schadenfreude," why not?

But let's pretend this is a single, second post, eh?

The first lawsuit that's making me laugh is the one where Microsoft's Vista stickers are coming home to roost. For those of you just awakening from a lengthy coma: we evil robots have destroyed all organics except you, Hu-Man, but your time has come, for we cannot compute this Hu-Man "emotion" you call "love"! You cannot run, Hu-Man! There is nowhere to hide! Delete the Hu-Man!

Heh. I just kill myself, sometimes.

For those of you who haven't been in comas but have nonetheless missed it: when Microsoft rolled out Vista last year, they were so desperate not to piss off hardware vendors and not to kill sales of both new computers and the OS, that they hit upon an elaborate scheme of putting stickers on things. Some new computers had stickers labeled "Premium Ready," which meant they were able to run the new Windows Vista. Other computers had stickers labeled "Vista Capable," which meant they could run Windows XP.

Somehow, surprisingly, consumers were confused by this.

Now, for those who didn't quite catch the snark that alit in the previous paragraphs: technically speaking, the stickers that said "Vista Capable" weren't, strictly speaking, lying. A computer that's labeled "Vista Capable" is, again technically speaking, capable of running Vista... if you turn off almost all the new features, especially the ones that appear in all the screenshots used to promote Vista. It's kind of like how if you ever went to Mexico and got drunk at a really seedy bar and passed out and woke up in a motel bathtub filled with ice and a helpful note taped to your forehead explaining that your kidneys had been stolen in the middle of the night, you can technically live without them... well, kind of... for a little while... sort of.

A consequence of this stickery trickery is that Microsoft is now being sued by people who went computer shopping, read the sticker, and interpreted the words "Vista" and "Capable" as being related to each other in a statementy kind-of-way. Efforts are now underway to make this a class-action lawsuit. The best part of this unsurprising development, however, is yesterday's report that even Microsoft execs were bitching about the deceptive inaccurate misleading obliquely truthful stickers:

Mike Nash, currently a corporate vice president for Windows product management, wrote in an e-mail, "I PERSONALLY got burnt. ... Are we seeing this from a lot of customers? ... I now have a $2,100 e-mail machine." Jim Allchin, then the co-president of Microsoft's Platforms and Services Division, wrote in another e-mail, "We really botched this. ... You guys have to do a better job with our customers."
The other legal news that amuses me, mainly because I really despised The Lord Of The Rings movies (please don't ask, you don't want to get me started) is that the Tolkien estate is suing New Line Cinema for not paying royalties that were due. Allegedly, New Line was supposed to pay the Tolkien estate 7.5% of gross receipts, but has only sent the estate $62,500.

Wow. Who knew that the Lord Of The Rings movies only grossed $833,333.33 at the box office? Poor New Line! I can't believe they took a bath like that, I mean, the special effects in the Rings movies must have cost at least... what? Maybe twice that?

And now the Tolkien Estate sweeps in, demanding $150,000,000 in compensatory damages along with "unspecified punitive damages," costs, fees, etc.? The Tolkien estate should be ashamed, ashamed of themselves for trying to drive New Line out of business like that! I can just picture the president of New Line having to sell his '98 Celica because of this. We should pass the hat around, maybe set up a PayPal account so he doesn't get kicked out of his apartment.

Alright, enough. It's dinnertime. Let's see if this bad boy will post.


Nathan Tuesday, February 12, 2008 at 8:24:00 PM EST  

I read the New Line story a couple of hours ago and one of my first thoughts was that you were probably dancing around like a maniac

I was sort of aware of the Microsoft story, but being strictly a mac guy, I glaze over a little when people start talking about that stuff. I love the guy who works there and bought the $2100 email machine.

Yes, glee inducing stuff.

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