Today I learnt a very valuable lesson about humanity.
I’ve taken a leap towards understanding what “being human” means.
While we marvel at the so-called artificial intelligence of software like Siri and Cortana, we simultaneously fear for our privacy, and we shudder at the thought of autonomous weapons systems and rogue drones.
We need not fear machines. We need to fear those who steer them because those who control the machines pursue not death and mayhem but, rather, take aim at commercial targets. And what’s more human than greed?
Enough! I’ve had it with tapes for a while.
A few years ago I set out to rip my personal tape collection.
I’ve done that and was quite pleased with the results.
Some I’ve now decided to re-rip using a superior tape deck, different software and higher bitrates (if not altogether lossless). I’m still in the middle of that. It’s a tedious and real-time-consuming affair.
Last Friday we went out to the movies.
We went to see Jurassic World. Blockbusters are always better on the big screen.
There are some movies you just have to see in the cinema, when they come out, munching overpriced popcorn while sitting in a large auditorium with a group of total strangers. It’s just a part of the experience.
What makes this worth writing about is the realisation that the last movie we saw on the big screen was Avatar – which means that it’s been over five years since we went to a cinema! We had to drive all the way from Frankfurt to Mannheim (some 100km away) to watch it in 3D and in English. That’s because in Germany all the movies get dubbed, and I’m certainly not paying full price for half the product.
For the regular 2D experience, there was the venerable Turmpalast – the only place that showed movies in original un-dubbed and un-mutilated splendour. Showing times of “original versions” (as they’re called here) at other cineplexes were a hit-and-miss affair not worth pursuing.
This means that, for all intents and purposes, there was only one cinema in all of Frankfurt and surroundings.
While not nearly in the same league as its overseas counterparts COMDEX, CeBIT, CES or IFA, the annual “Computer Faire” was a key South African exhibition for those interested in IT/computer technology and office automation.
It was the largest event of its kind in the southern hemisphere.
On a personal level, the Computer Faire was the annual mecca for new technology, demonstrations of the latest gadgetry, and “special bargains”.
Blogs serve many a function.
No different to the waffle and tripe most people post to Facebook, a personal blog usually describes the achievements in a person’s life — those little victories and strokes of luck we need to brag about.
There has been a range of studies about a certain “Facebook depression” some people can sink into when all they read about are their so-called friends’ achievements — the ones who are permanently happy and always smiling. Everything seems to work out right for them, always on holiday at some exotic and photogenic location, everyone’s carefree and successful, and everyone has stacks of beautiful, cool friends. Everyone does it.
When Earth is destroyed and the Facebook servers are discovered as space flotsam by an alien race, their anthropologists will conclude that the inhabitants of this planet lived a truly joyous and leisurely existence. Recovered evidence will lead them to believe that members of the human race were vain narcissists with few worries; they enjoyed sharing pictures of their meals, and they worshipped cats. Earth must’ve been a paradise.
“Cyberia” was the name of a long-running series of music mix compilation CDs conjured up in South Africa between DJ friend Rufus Blairgowrie and I.
Rufus provided most of the music and handled the mixing part while it was me who “mastered” them into some cohesive result and was responsible for the artwork (bar for the first two). Acting under the silly collective name of “CeeJay Cyborgasm”, the first mix CD-R came out on 31-03-1999 and could be considered fairly successful because we did manage to flog a few discs to friends, fans, and visitors to houses of ill repute. Though we barely broke even on expenses, our clientèle was, to put it mildly, very interesting and most certainly varied — which led to some rather amusing encounters and side projects!
Strange days, indeed!
After I left for Germany, we continued the Cyberia gig via postage and electronic mail.
Hard drives are the under-appreciated workhorses of a standard PC configuration.
Their disks whiz around at breakneck revolutions, heads cushioned by mere molecules of air as they skim over shiny surfaces during feverish read/write operations to store volumes of data to increasingly insatiable users who are all but completely oblivious of their existence — pausing only to curse them when they get busy, fragmented, or full.
They’re never fast or big enough.
And when they do break, oh! When hard drives fail, all hell breaks loose because not only is there downtime until a replacement is installed — no, there is downtime coupled with loss of data that just never seems to want to get backed up often enough.
Whereas in previous years backups were made on floppy or tape and then on optical media, it seems we’ve reverted to using external hard drives to make backups of the workhorse hard drive in your workstation because they’re cheap. They’re ubiquitous.
About a month ago a personal dream came true: I got to see my favourite band live.
Friends and followers of this blog should know that Queen has been my favourite band for over thirty years, even before it became cool to admit to being a fan. In fact, their popularity simply surged after Freddie Mercury’s death in 1991, despite the lack of fresh material by the original quartet (not counting 1995’s “Made in Heaven”).
“There is no point carrying on. It’s impossible to replace Freddie,” said bassist John Deacon and retired to wife and brood of kids thereafter.
Despite being reduced to the two active founding members, the band and their music have never quite left the limelight. Excellent live concert videos from the glory days are being output at a rate similar to their original studio album run. There’s a musical, the usual fare of sanctioned remixes and the odd few collaborations: the last Queen + suffix was no less than Paul Rodgers, a testosterone-laden partnership that resulted in a mediocre album in 2008 and a tour which I missed again!
Enter one Adam Lambert, runner-up in the American Idol circus and an established young vocalist in his own right.