May 12th, 2010

#2066: TV stuff

House ends for the season next week, as does V; if I'm recalling correctly Smallville does this Friday. I think FlashForward has two eps left. Once those shows are done, that'll leave me with just Doctor Who and the car shows.

Last night's ep of V had an annoying bit in it. Chad Decker "violated his journalistic ethics" and gave an editorial! OMG! Zowie! That has never happened before in the history of journalism! Everyone knows journalists never do editorials!

That entire part of last night's ep was disgustingly simple-minded. Worse, it showed that the writers of the series don't understand how the news business works, and that they think the rest of us are too stupid to see the flaws in their writing.

It's hardly unprecedented for any reporter to give an editorial or commentary. It's done all the time; and the "journalistic ethics" (what an oxymoron that is) are satisfied as long as the piece is identified as an opinion piece, which Chad Decker's diatribe was: there was a title card overlaying him as he talked which said "Commentary by Chad Decker".

Chad Decker giving an empassioned plea for the Vs to stay was not a violation of whatever he has that pass for ethics.

Anna wants the name of the person who told Decker about the 5th column attack on the V shuttle. Decker has been refusing, citing "ethics"; but after he gave that commentary, she asked him for the name again, saying, "You've already violated your journalistic ethics once today."


The entire Chad Decker story arc is weak anyway, but making up a conflict which wouldn't actually happen is not going to fix it.

You know, and TV news journals don't work the way they do in V, either. The guy in front of the camera is reading from a script; most of the investigation and journalism are done by someone behind the camera: the producer. The woman who played Decker's producer was pretty and I would have liked to see more of her, but they've gone over to the televion fantasy version of the TV journalist and she hasn't shown up since the second episode. The point is, Decker doing his own legwork wouldn't happen; not when he's on a national news show, it wouldn't. Guys at that level are too busy with a myriad of other things to have time for the grunt work.

I think V suffers from having too many story arcs. It doesn't have time for all of them; so they end up simplistic and unsatisfying. The writers are trying to cram too much into too little time, and it shows; the final product is weak.

The V franchise isn't science fiction, and never was. The original miniseries had its own stupidity, but at least the prior iteration didn't include such egregiously stupid writing mistakes.

* * *

Apparently on June 6th Gilette is going to announce something big and new which will revolutionize shaving.

...hand of sarcasm...

I'm betting it's a six-bladed razor. Why else June 6? And how many freakin' blades does a razor need anyway? Five is dumb enough. I use a three-bladed razor and wonder if I couldn't get by with a double.

But Steven Den Beste will have to update his "five-bladed razor" aphorism....

#2067: Mouse has died.

I use an MS Comfort Optical Mouse 3000, and have since 2008 (as I recall). The mouse that came with this computer from Gateway died after officially Too Much Diablo II, which is a clickfest, killed the left button.

I'm right handed, but I use the mouse left-handed because of carpal tunnel. See, back in the old C-64 days I'd play Ultima II and III for hours at a time, with my wrist in a really, really bad position because the keyboard was too high and I was too lazy. (C'mon--I was 16.) My wrists have always been weak, but the right one is weaker than my left one.

U2 and U3 used the C-64 cursor keys for movement; I could lounge in my desk chair and move around the world just by tapping cursor keys (and the shift key, where needed, since left was shift-right, and up was shift-down) with my right hand. But it meant my hand was at about a 90° angle to my arm. Yeah. I finally wised up when my wrist began to hurt.

Anyway: so I mouse with my left hand, so the buttons are swapped. The right button is set for "click"--that's how the mouse control panel describes it--and the left button is set for "right-click". It works fine for me.

...except that now the right mouse button no longer works correctly.

I first noticed it last night: I was getting frustrated because I had to click things two or three times to get them to select. But it didn't get really bad until just a few minutes ago, when it got to the point that it was interfering with my ability to play WoW.

It works if I press down hard on it, but that's no good from an ergonomic standpoint. Having to press extra-hard once or twice isn't a big deal; having to do it continuously will lead--in relatively short order--to a repetitive stress injury, eg carpal tunnel. No thanks.

I cracked it open to see if there was anything I could do to fix the problem, but it's just a matter of wear and tear; there's nothing I could do which would restore the mouse to proper function. I thought about adding a shim to the bit of the button which actually presses the switch, but getting that right would be a royal pain in the ass.

So tomorrow I'm going to go to K-mart in hopes of getting another MS Comfort Optical Mouse 3000. This one lasted at least two years, and some of that time included a lot of Diablo II, which is a mouse killer. (WoW isn't as bad as D2, as it spreads the work out across both buttons.)

I do have a backup mouse--the cordless Logitech one--but I can't figure out how to reconfigure it for left-handed use, damn it. Somehow, Vista is operating the mouse without a specific driver, and I can't set the buttons in the mouse control panel because it's defaulting to the corded mouse and won't let me switch.

...and I'm not unplugging the main one because I was thinking about logging out and going to bed, anyway. I can use it; but the main button is flaky. So I guess it hasn't really died; it's just crippled.

* * *

Dinner tonight was Subway, and their meatball sub with pepperoni is pretty tasty.

* * *

We actually had to turn the heat on today. The weather's been seasonably cool and it was cloudy all day. It was 66° in here, and both Mom and I were freezing.

Two months from now we'll wish it was 66° in here.

* * *

Of late I've been thinking about making some modifications to the Escort. I'd like to get an A-pillar gauge pod and install an oil pressure gauge and a voltmeter. (Maybe a vacuum gauge too, just for yucks.)

Before I do any of that, though, I need to fix a bunch of other stuff. I still have to get some acorn nuts for the rear reflector strip; affix the Ford logo; install the missing drip rail on the roof; tighten down the spoiler; fix the HVAC control panel; replace the dash bulbs; polish the oxidization out of the right side headlamp; replace the left side headlamp; and fix the stereo. All kinds of little stuff.

I don't know what happened to the stereo that's in it but it won't play CDs any more. I'm going to remove it and try cleaning it before I even think about investing in a new head unit. Of course the radio works fine, and since it's got an auxiliary input I can hook my MP3 player to it. But I'd like to be able to listen to CDs, too.

How old is it? Nine years? Ten? Eleven? Lord. It wouldn't be terribly surprising if the thing did need cleaning.

(When did I install that thing? Originally in the green car, I mean--it was shortly after Darla got her minivan, so it couldn't have been much later than 1999, could it?)

The car needs a thorough cleaning. I want to thorougly clean it and the Jeep, and then give 'em both a good coat of wax.

Incidentally, I also want to fix the Jeep's rear wiper. That hasn't worked from the day I bought it.

* * *

According to the radar at the weather site I frequent, there's a pretty strong storm about 40 miles away, heading this way at around 10-15 MPH. If nothing changes it'll be here about 2, and it'll probably wake me up.

...modern technology is pretty fascinating stuff when you stop to think about it.

It used to be that when you ordered something from a catalog, you mailed the form to the company with a check or money order enclosed. Then you waited "four to six weeks" for your order to come in the mail. These days you can go to a web site and order the stuff, pay by credit card, and track the package all the way to your front door. And get annoyed if it takes more than a week.

You don't have to wait for the weather report on the news; you can get up-to-the-minute information, including radar, on-line. And the only thing you pay is the ISP fee.

I mean, damn.

A lot of SF writers and other prognosticators saw computer networks coming; but none of them thought that most of it would be free to access. I mean, you pay to get access to the Internet, sure, but once you're there, there's an immense amount of free content to access.

No one saw that coming. What else no one saw coming was free WiFi: go to a coffee shop, order something, open up your laptop, and you're on the Internet for nothing. The idea that computer network access could ever be cheap enough to offer as a freebie just to get people into your establishment--in the 1980s people would have laughed at the idea. (Back when CompuServe was charging $10 per hour for 1200 baud access, I mean.)

If you're not a big-time Internet user (like me, playing WoW all the damn time) you don't have to have an ISP--just go to a hot spot and do your Internet stuff there. You don't even have to pay for e-mail as there are several freebies out there; and there's also plenty of free utility software.

It might be a fun project for me to take one of my old laptops and see what I can get it to do for free: get a free distro of Linux, free software for it, etc, etc. It would be perfectly acceptable for basic tasks like word processing, image editing, e-mail, web browsing, even playing MP3s.

Maybe I'll get on that one sometime after I finish all the car work....

Update: Looks like I really underestimated the speed of that storm. As of 11:30 it's right on top of us. Oh well.