Saturday, February 27, 2010

Convergence vs. Divergence

I am doing a book review for New Media and Society and one of the books has a small section on convergence. Immediately it popped into my mind that the whole convergence thing is wrong, and always was.

It's divergence and diversity we should be focusing on.

The important thing is not, say, that many functions are accessible on our iPhone or Android phone, and that those devices are examples of convergence (many functions converge on one object, although these two examples are somewhat after most of the talk about convergence). What is important, and is the flipside of convergence, is the many things we can do--a divergence of functions and channels that we can access and use. There was email in the 1970s. Now we have blogs, Twitter, Facebook, Skype, cell phones and SMS, and a variety of other communication options. Yes we can access all of those on our iPhones and Android phones and such (convergence). But it is not about how any one device can do so much. It's about how much we can do. That is far more important.

Friday, February 19, 2010

The (Self-Inflicted) Death of Blu-Ray

I have been meaning for some time to write about the horrible Star Trek 2009 blu-ray experience that I had, but sitting through the ten minutes of previews that you cannot skip has been too terrible a thought.

Yes, when you start the DVD (at least the blu-ray version), it plays ten minutes of four previews. You cannot skip this. You cannot go to the main menu. You cannot play the film until you have played these four previews. You cannot control your TV. You cannot control your DVD player. You cannot control your blu-ray DVD.

Additionally, it is a terribly written film. I don't say that as a Trek fan, which I am, I say that as a writer. Using time travel to write whatever they want is a horrible, cheap gimmick, and then to connect it to the canon (after pointing out how they were avoiding the canon at every step) is insulting.

And the sound balance is all off, which is true of the theater version as well. I had to hold the remote in my hand the entire film, adjusting between the impossible-to-hear dialog (had to set it to 35 volume) and the deafening explosions (quickly, down to 20 volume). That is inexcusable.

If I had been thinking straight, and not been so shocked, I would have returned the DVD. I am certainly never going to watch it again. If I get another one like it, and it is doubtful I will buy another after that, I will return it and say it is defective, because it would be. My TV. My DVD player. I control them. End of story.

But, luckily for me, I don't quite have to sit through the terrible ten minutes. Cory Doctorow and Mark Frauenfelder over at boingboing have two posts on terrible DVD issues today: Infographic: buying DVDs vs pirating them and Disney's Fast Play is the slow way to the DVD feature. The Trek blu-ray isn't mentioned, but it's the same issue.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Windows Insecurity: Still No Accountability

Writing in today's New York Times, John Markoff describes how a recently-discovered computer virus "can commandeer the operating systems of both residential and corporate computing systems via the Internet." Not once does he actually mention which operating system or systems are affected.

Most certainly it is only Microsoft's Windows operating system.

Not only should Markoff be clear about that, but he should be clear about which specific versions of Windows are at risk. XP? Vista? Windows 7? With which service packs?

"Both residential and corporate computing systems" is an odd thing to write, and it makes no sense. But to avoid assigning responsibility to Microsoft for continually making a horribly insecure operating system, version after version, regardless of releasing patches, is bad journalism. There are no viruses, currently, for the Macintosh operating system, OSX. This is not because the Mac has a small market share -- there were viruses for the older "classic" Mac OS (such as OS 7). It is because OSX is more secure. I doubt it is completely secure, but I am not a security expect. All I know is that there are thousands of viruses and the like for Windows, but none for the Mac.

Markoff doesn't even mention Microsoft or Windows in the article. Pathetic.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Mass Effect 2 Mini-Review

I don't like it. They took out one of the horrible things from the first version, the inventory system, which was so bad it should never have been in the game, and then they also just got rid of inventory, which means fewer loot drops, which is less fun. Then they left in most of the horrible interfaces like the galaxy map and the touchy power selector. They added two lousy security mini-games, and added horrible planet scanning.

Here are bits from two emails I sent about it:

I liked the first one better, except for the elevators and the inventory system.

Now there is no inventory, and fewer loot drops, which is less fun.
The space map interface still sucks horribly.
The lack of any camera control drives me nuts.
Trying to select powers is really touchy.
Scanning planets is terrible.
I hate the two mini-security games.

I've mined planets that have miners on them.
And last night I found a planet that had a description that said there were no minerals there, and then the scan said it was rich with minerals. Seriously?
You can endorse at least two stores in the Citadel, and even though it is cheesy and self-serving, it's a Paragon choice. You say the same thing for both stores, "This store is my favorite in the Citadel!" How is that true if you say it for both? This is not a Paragon choice, this is the other whatever it is called choice! Ridiculous.

You have to make some new account to start the game.
I already have enough accounts and an XBL account!
I did, however, hook my old Mac USB keyboard up and typed in a sane manner on the device.

The dialog seems.... long.... but thought out, although you can, oddly, repeat the same things over and over.

The graphics are very good, though.

Overall, not worth it.