Writing Blog

June 30, 2007

The Trap

Filed under: Psychology,Society,TV — Rafael Minuesa @ 8:40 AM
Tags: , , , , , ,
This article was first posted by my alter-ego laparanoia.
You can view the original version at:
* http://lasparanoias.blogspot.com/2007/06/trap.html

A BBC documentary:
The Trap, directed by Adam Curtis.

Game TheoryGame Theory studies strategic interactions between agents. In strategic games, agents choose strategies which will maximize their return, given the strategies the other agents choose.
The essential feature is that it provides a formal modeling approach to social situations in which decision makers interact with other agents.

Game theory has played, and continues to play a large role in the social sciences, and is now also used in many diverse academic fields. Beginning in the 1970s, game theory has been applied to animal behavior, including evolutionary theory.

Many games, especially the prisoner’s dilemma, are used to illustrate ideas in political science and ethics. Game theory has recently drawn attention from computer scientists because of its use in artificial intelligence and cybernetics.

Although some game theoretic analysis appear similar to decision theory, game theory studies decisions made in an environment in which players interact. In other words, game theory studies choice of optimal behavior when costs and benefits of each option depend upon the choices of other individuals.

But bear in mind that John Forbes, whose works on the theory were later applied to many social and political schemes was a schizophrenic.

“Liberty? Why, it doesn’t exist. There is no liberty in this world, just gilded cages.”

Aldous Huxley, Antic Hay, 1923

November 14, 2005

The Curse of the Amiga

This article was first posted by my alter-ego laparanoia at the magiKomputer‘s Blog.
You can view the original version at:
* http://magikomputer.blogspot.com/2005/11/curse-of-amiga.html

Amiga Survivor DrawingIs the Amiga Dead, Yet?
Not Yet.

Is it cursed?
No doubt.

Even me, as I was writing this post, had Firefox crashed for the first time ever and lost about an hour’s work. Previously I had tried to post from Elicit and Zoundry with similar results. In more than 3 years blogging I had NEVER experienced anything even remotely similar. When I restarted, my right button search function had vanished, and all those circumstances put together have made this post the one that has taken more effort to create by far. But, you see, I am an obstinate bastard, specially when it comes to something I’ve spent so many years working and playing with (or was rather the other way around) and that is so close to my heart as the Amiga.

I have been a fanatic user of the Amiga from 1991 until the turn of the millennium, and I still think it was the best machine mankind has ever created. What has happened to this computer is a real techno-tragedy and I am sure it has altered the course of History, and not for the Good.

I haven’t tried the latest hardware and software, but here is an excellent review of Jeremy Reimer, who bought an AmigaOne Micro with OS4 on November 2004:

The Micro-AmigaOne and Amiga OS4 Developer Prerelease
Jay Miner started the Amiga Inc. computer company in 1982 before Commodore bought them out.
The Amiga computer was first commercialized released in 1985 by Commodore, that eventually went bankrupt in April 1994.
Commodore was bought at liquidation by Escom AG, who had no real interest in the Amiga. Escom itself went bankrupt a few years later, and the Amiga was briefly bought out by set-top manufacturer VISCorp, before they too filed for liquidation.
Its new owner was Gateway Computers, who were only interested in Commodore’s old patent portfolio. When it became increasingly clear that Gateway was never going to do anything with the Amiga, a consortium of investors calling themselves Amino Development bought out the rights to the Amiga hardware and OS in 1999.
The new AmigaOne motherboards were first released in 2002, but there was no OS to go with them, so they shipped with Debian PPC Linux. After an agonizing 18-month wait, the first Developer Prerelease CD of OS4 was shipped to AmigaOne owners worldwide.

AmigaOne OS4
OS4 boots remarkably quickly. From a cold boot, including waiting for power up, BIOS messages, straight to a usable desktop took slightly over 30 seconds. A “warm boot,” which bypasses the BIOS start-up and merely reloads the operating system, takes slightly over 10 seconds.

One feature of the original custom Amiga graphics chips was that you could “pull” down screens with the mouse to see screens that were behind them. This feature, called “draggable screens,” was never duplicated by any graphics card manufacturer since, so sadly it is not available on the AmigaOne.

A cold boot, including power up, BIOS messages, takes less than what it takes you to get accommodated in your chair. Compare that to any Windows/Mac OS start-up. They usually give me enough time to go and make coffee (Mac OSX is not that sluggish, to be honest).
I am sorry to hear that there is no “draggable screens“.
Another cool feature was the ability of clicking on several menu items at once (holding right-side button and clicking with the left), and get the commands batch-processed at once.

Many people, upon reading the hardware specs of the Micro Amiga One, will feel that the performance (800MHz PowerPC 750FX, SDR RAM) is far below modern gear. This is true to a certain extent, but it does not give the whole picture. AmigaOS was originally written for a 7.14 MHz 68000, and the last Classic version released by Commodore, 3.1, was optimized for a 12 MHz 68020 platform. According to Hyperion, over 90% of the OS code has been converted from 68k to PPC, and the only code yet to be translated (serial port code, AREXX macro routines), does not typically impact on performance.
Because the OS is so small (About 60MB on disk for a complete install), it fits very nicely in 256MB of RAM, with room for several applications, most of which have a similarly small memory footprint. This means that you can run the OS and multitask between several applications without ever swapping to the disk.

I have created and run multimedia presentations for TV stations on as little as an Amiga 500, 1Mb RAM, 720 Kb floppy, no Hard Drive. Gosh, I miss Scala so much…

In speeches around the world, Alan Redhouse of Eyetech always opens by saying that everyone always asks them: “Why are you doing this?” And the answer he gives, with a smile, is “We don’t know!” There is an infectious enthusiasm among Amiga users…

Infectious enthusiasm defines the feeling of Amiga users at that time.
As of today, if you visit Amiga’s Headquarters (http://www.amiga.com/) you’ll be presented with the latest technology in … Jackpots!!!?
It has broken my heart.

Better visit this one: http://www.amiga.org/

Is there a future for the Amiga?
Some people seem to think so:


Jeremy Reimer has a website full of undiscovered gems at:
where among other things he promotes StudlyOS, as the Only Operating System You Will Ever Need.
I wish I had the time to try it out.
I liked the Amigan comment on it, though:

“StudlyOS sucks!!!1111 Y00 think itz c00l but your rong!!!!!11111 I Cant run it on my Am1ga so what yoos is it????/ My Am1ga beats yor peecee anyday!!!!!! !!!11111111 Peecee even with StudlyOS cant beet Amiga because Amiga rules!!!! Amiga iz better because it is Amiga!!!1111 Nothing else is Amiga!!!11111” – B1FF

The Amiga Boing Ball is a mythical object in the computer industry. It was created as an example of the machines ability. The demo showed a red and white ball bouncing around the screen and interacting with the environment- it bounced off the walls, spun, while multitasking in the background.

That demo displaying smooth animation in full colorwhen other computers were only just managing color display, helped sell over a million Amigas at a time when a computer was a synonym of science fiction.

October 3, 2004

German-style porn TV

Filed under: Society,TV — Rafael Minuesa @ 8:16 AM
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Sick and tired of watching rubbish on Spanish TV, I have recently purchased a satellite receiver. I didn’t want to subscribe to any pre-paid channels, and instead decided to explore what was out there for free. From Southern Spain there are several satellites you can point your dish at, but I was advised to choose Astra 19, because of its larger offer of available free channels. Well, that much is true, but what the technician didn’t tell me is that over half of them are German. The reason being that in Germany, by law, even local TV stations must broadcast its signal in digital, suitable for carrying it outspace (a very intelligent initiative, indeed).

And so, I started to explore the universe of free satellite TV. On a first scan I got over 300+ channels, but after a filtering that took days, I settled for less than 20 (CBS, CNN, MTV, Lonely Planet, a few Spanish local stations, and an assorted lot that included RAI, TV5, Euronews, Eurosport, etc.). Out of more than 150 German channels, I ended up bookmarking only one that run mostly English, French and German nature documentaries, plus another few that aired sex-oriented late-night “shows?”. Two weeks later I accidentally erased the memory of the receiver and had to start all over again. It was a painful exercise having to waddle again through all those uninspiring products of German mentality.

Naturally, I can’t speak any German, mostly because I never had any need to, never been to Germany or Austria (neither I intend to in a foreseeable future), and besides, life’s too short to learn a language that is so slipshod and systemless (“Deutsche Sprache, schwere Sprache”). And they all speak good English, anyway.

Nonetheless, I’ve met literally hundreds of German nationals, although you can count with the fingers of one hand the ones that I would call friends. As soon as you start traveling around the world, you’ll come to realize that they’re unavoidable. They are everywhere, usually in groups, and even though they appear to be very well-informed and do take a genuine interest in learning the local language and culture, they’re not really interested in interacting. They’d rather take the researcher’s attitude, studying the specimen and its habitat from a safe distance, always comparing it to what they’ve got back home, constantly pointing out whatever doesn’t fare well.

As I write this post, Canal2 Andalucia is gifting its audience with Baghdad Cafe, starring Marianne Sagebrecht, and I have to admit that I like her. A lot.

But back to German-style porn TV. No need to master the language to get the message. Same explicit ads, repeated over-and-over-again in series of 4 or 5, featuring some unbearable ugly characters, that produced in me the opposite effect of a turn-on.
One of them ads specially dazzled me: A disgusting blonde, legs wide open to the camera, with only one of those pamelas topped with artificial flowers for an outfit, sticks out her tongue as if she was at the practitioners’ being checked for malaises. Red letters “strategically” positioned covering the patient’s private lower parts, repeatedly flash the word ROMANTIK.
Well, maybe I’ve just got it wrong during all these years, but I have always believed “Romantic” meant a different thing.
I dare not to guess what their idea of dirty sex would be then.

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