Damn It, Jaden

The son of Will and Jada-Pinkett Smith, Jaden Smith has been foisted into the public eye to decidedly mixed results. But his brand was arguably established by his Twitter feed, a soupy mixture of faux philosophy and surely-he’s-stoned non sequiturs. And yesterday, the Huffington Post published an article where he’s asked to explain a selection of his most famous thoughts.

It’s not good, guys. I’m bolding the quote in question and italicizing his commentary, and then I’ve got a couple of things to say. Continue reading “Damn It, Jaden”

Server Mark One, and Mark Zero too.

A little while back I determined to do something about my desire to fiddle with seismic data on a computer dedicated to that task. And whether you call it a server or a workstation, you’ve ultimately got to come up with the hardware to do the job(s) you need. With a little luck and good timing you can save money to that end by repurposing old hardware. I picked up a Core i5 3570K – the hottest gaming CPU from around six years ago – along with a motherboard and assorted goodies from a friend for a fair price. After getting it home and putting the kids to bed, I set to assembling a server. And for a brief few seconds, all was well… until it suddenly wasn’t.

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The Filthiest House

I can’t recall whether it was late 2002 or early 2003, but the Texas air was still chilly and the days were short.

In those Web 1.0 days PC messaging apps were in diverse bloom. When my ICQ client chimed its “uh oh!” notification one day, I was surprised to see a message from… we’ll call her Amanda. She was a friend from high school who dated one of my droogs in those far gone days, and wondered if I’d be around Houston any time soon. After some chatter I agreed to dart down there in a few weeks, and I began sketching the outlines of a fun trip. I really should have known better…

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On Apple, and OpenGL

I’d planned on a big post for this. I’ve even got a mostly finished draft in a separate browser window – all lamentations and shame, shame, Apple, both for neglecting OpenGL so badly to this point and for closing the door on cross-platform 3D (well, outside of WebGPU, anyway). Let’s be clear, neglecting the implementation of a standard for a half decade when you’re on its advisory board was already sending a message. It’s been functionally deprecated for ages. And they’re eager for people to adopt their own API, Metal. But the truth is that this turning away from a widely supported spec is hardly new – Apple’s tuning out of the broader computing landscape.

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There’s No Mystique in Navel Gazing

Because I’m approaching middle age and nostalgia’s a sticky thing, I was pondering the Matrox Mystique again a few weeks back. Old computers are easy to find in America, and my neighbor has a system sitting in his garage that would easily accommodate the video card, and other period-appropriate hardware. A little fixing up, and I could be humming along in high late ’90s fashion again… and I flatly refuse.

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Brief Memory of a Novelty Musical Act

His dim star fading even then, William Hung performed for the grand opening of a Planet Tan in late 2004. I know this happened because I was there. Though my nose subconsciously wrinkles remembering it, I regret nothing.

There’s no good justification for why someone goes to something like this. It’s like a pioneer family going to watch a stagecoach fire, or finding out someone who had a toilet mishap on national TV is going to willfully shit themselves in front of a brand new tanning salon. Sometimes you give in to the screeching primate side of you that wants to eat bad food and watch traffic collisions. And it was free when I was in college, and barely had rent money. Don’t imagine that was lost on me.

But even larded with rationalizations, it was a pretty sad way to spend a Saturday morning. Hung’s public persona, his very raison d’etre, was his ability to suck the air out of a room through the power of horrible singing. Seething black hole of talent that he was, the act of singing for hundreds of hours and projecting that voice to crowds started shaving off his voice’s worst and most feeble qualities. By the time Hung appeared before the crowd in Addison, Texas, he’d gone from Herald of the Apocalypse to Well-Fed Karaoke Guy. He wobbled around onstage to scattered applause, flanked by unpaid volunteer dancers, and sang under an overcast sky. After a few minutes the energy of the crowd was subdued. People shifted, and started to disperse or look for bathrooms. I left to get breakfast with my girlfriend. Hung released a Christmas album, then scampered back into oblivion. I hear he’s offering his services as an inspirational speaker, and wonder what kind of crowd that would draw these days.

Update: In an example asserting that there is neither mercy nor pity for past memories, this news struck today: at least for a few perilous minutes, he’s back.

Why Migrating to HEVC May Be Premature in 2018

 Why Migrating to HEVC in 2018 May Be Premature

There’s been a lot of discussion in media circles about the High Efficiency Video Codec (HEVC, or H.265 to its friends). As the latest video encoding standard from the MPEG consortium, it offers a dramatic improvement in encoding efficiency over H.264/AVC – on the order of 100%. It’s the sole supported means of encoding video for Blu-ray 4K, playback is supported on new graphics chips and computing devices, and it’s got widespread industry support. Despite all that, HEVC hasn’t enjoyed the swift adoption H.264 did more than a decade ago. As it turns out, there are good reasons it hasn’t gotten traction yet.

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Idle Hands in Field Work

Not too long after the start of The Great Recession I was an environmental geologist. I did a lot of work for different firms – ranging from Phase I Environmental Site Assessments to ongoing soil and groundwater remediation and environmental characterization – and on this partly overcast, gorgeous early autumn day I was waiting at a closed gas station with an environmental scientist from another firm. I’d run out to supervise the plugging and abandoning of a groundwater monitoring well, he was waiting to sign a chain of custody sheet and see several drums of designated waste off for proper disposal, and frankly we got bored. At some point – once we’d chatted a bit and realized we had several interests in common – my erstwhile companion realized that there were boxes of candy set out by the trash for pickup.

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