Thursday, January 23, 2003

Blauwtand (Have The Radiowaves Made Me Sterile Yet?)

As part of testing the phone -- not even my real job, just something I signed up for inside Nokia -- my lab manager handed me a Bluetooth PC Card. Bluetooth is a short-range wireless protocol for devices like phones and printers and computers, kinda meant to replace the USB cable, in concept. It doesn't work with my work notebook since its ports are so fucked, but I have inserted it into the picturebook and installed the software. Then I wanted to use it for IP over the phone, but the only dial-up I have is AOL.

So I fired up AOL and told it to discover new modems. Now, the Bluetooth software on the computer sets up virtual COM ports, modem/serial/fax ports that are fake but look like real ports to other software. Every time the COM ports on my computer are probed by software, the Bluetooth manager goes "Eeep! Where's the phone on the other end that has to send these packets!" and when that hits the phone, the phone goes "Eeep! This thing wants to talk to me! Should I let it?"

So with all the boxes and beeps I get to see exactly how that idiot-proof software of AOL probes the computer to find a modem, and hide all the details from the user. It is very through, it probed the fake serial port, the fake fax port, the fake modem port, and then tried to dial the number '5' just to make sure it exists.

It works. My computer is on the Internet through AOL, dialing through the phone, and the two are connected wirelessly. No line-of-sight necessary. And with the way AOL shares IP, browsers and mailers now work too. It is extremely slow, but very reliable, the packets and connections do not get dropped.

Nobody Wants To Take Goddamn Responsability For What They Do

So the political insiders think the public was too hard on Hilary Rosen because, after all, she just gets paid for these positions so attacking her personally for espousing these positions was uncalled for, you know. You know what: Bull-shit.

If Hilary Rosen did not want to be identified with the positions the RIAA was spouting, she shouldn't have spouted them. This idiotic idea that a person is no longer responsible for what they do as long as they get paid to do it is one of the causes behind how every institution in society is turning into one giant machine that eats people up and spits them out, a set of machines in which real humans have no option anymore than to divorce themselves from meaning and passion and only have irony and cynicism left as tools to deal with. No, fucking no, take back your humanity, our humanity, by dealing with humans as humans, and not as cardboard representatives and paid shills, marionets who get paid. Refuse to buy the line that "they're just paid to do this, so you can't blame them".

If Hilary Rosen didn't want to say what she said, she could have goddamn quit. Hilary Rosen was not a peon without a choice. Hilary Rosen was there because she wanted to be, and for me to be told that I am to divorce Hilary Rosen from what Hilary Rosen says because Hilary Rosen takes her orders on what to say from her lobbying group, is asking me to deny Hilary Rosen her agency in her own life, and her humanity, it is asking me to view Hilary Rosen as a persona instead of a person. It would be demeaning to Hilary Rosen for me to do so, and worse, it removes all humans from corporations and lobbys and end up pitting me against abstractions, legal constructs with no humans at the wheel because "we all just work here". It dehumanizes me by making me fight an invisible machine by asking me to dehumanize people.

No, no, no, no. Hilary Rosen is responsible for what Hilary Rosen says, even as president of the RIAA. Everybody in that business who wants me to give her a free pass because she got paid needs to grow a fucking spine already.

Monday, January 20, 2003

Men's Health Personal Training Site

I recently signed up, as a lark and I was in a workout rut, for Men's Health magazine computerized personal trainer on their website, which is actually a rebranded version of genesant's health gym portal (also available as's It was actually interesting, and I wanted to write a review about it before other people bothered. Alas, epinions doesn't allow you to add websites for review if they haven't made them available.

The idea of the site is that all these advanced exercise scientists automated their knowledge to give you as many benefits of a personal weight trainer as possible. Supposedly there isn't that much tailoring that needs to be for most people that it couldn't be automated. The site also lets you enter your workouts so you can track your progress -- something that too many people do not do, and thus don't know whether they are advancing or not -- and the system will rotate exercises to keep you from boredom, and suggest the amount of weight to use based on how the previous workout went. There are also animated gifs and complete descriptions of the exercises so you keep good form, the other thing a personal trainer should do. All for around 7 bucks a month, way cheaper than a live human. You'd get everything but the guy breathing down your neck in the gym, and with the sorry state of personal trainer certification, it would be better than many people are getting at 60 bucks an hour.

After inputting some stats like height, weight, inches left and right, etc., you get to choose from a couple of workout tracks. Their main track has all the tracking and rotating. You enter how many days you have to work out, whether you want to focus on getting lean or strong (those are the choices) and how much you currently lift in some areas, and it starts making a workout for you. Unfortunatly, you do not really get to choose the actual exercises, so in my example it selected some things my gym does not have the machines for. When you enter the results of a workout, you can say that you did a different exercise than the one listed, but this change is not remembered for the next workout, it expects you to do the originally selected one again. So it won't suggest what weights to use, and it won't keep track of the cycling, and you have little idea whether your substitutions works well within the schedule. You can select to do schedules only with dumbells or barbells, but if you do have access to some machines, that would be a waste.

You can start a track that is completly customized, but it is customized by yourself, so you loose all the knowledge about personal training this system was supposed to give you. The custom track will also not suggest new weights, nor suggest rotations. You do still get the graphs, the places to store the results from your weigh-ins and measurements, the stuff people should be keeping track of to see if what they are doing is working, but usually don't.

It is a bit of a bait-n-switch to have it be branded as a Men's Health magazine site, because it actually does not follow Men's Health latest ideas of training, and you can't easily select a track that would be a version of their latest workout scheduling notions or exercises. It would have been great if there had been the track for the current year long plan (they start a new one every year) and their strength coaches knowledge would have been automated and included so that a guy wouldn't have to fill in the blanks the magazine didn't, thus enhancing the relationship between the magazine and the website. It seems like such a simple step, instead you get the feeling that somebody outsourced without really thinking through how it would reflect on the original brand.

So in the end, I wanted the easily communicated knowledge of a personal trainer, but what I ended up with was something inappropriate for me, or an expensive electronic worldwidewebbed log. I did not finish the free trial.

Thursday, January 02, 2003


Fast Company asks, what do I do with my life?

/. ponders it.

The brain-candy part struck close to home. The coding part of this gig is slowly rewarding because I get to puzzle.