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samedi 15 novembre 2003

A Noos techie came round this afternoon to check things my end after yet further hassle with the ISP I've doggedly decided to remain loyal to, now that I know exactly why recent service has been so bad.
It'll just take two more weeks' patience before they've completed the network engineering that saw me again cut off three times yesterday alone.
"Your sector is done! Your installation is fine now."
I damned well hope so, because last time they were being premature.
Thus it's only today, since I was also out and about a lot, that everything's been in place for me to give Panther a proper tour of inspection.
The report I've submitted to an initial 'impressions' thread at TS (blogrolled) is the first I've written in a while without saying anything nasty about Apple.
Because I'm exceedingly impressed by Mac OS X 10.3.

brickbatHowever, since I find it difficult to write about Apple without laying into them for something, I shouldn't pass over the pompous crap that accompanied the first update, 10.3.1. It was scarcely comprehensible to anybody but initiates:

"Apple has identified an issue with external FireWire hard drives using the Oxford 922 bridge chip-set with firmware version 1.02 that can result in the loss of data stored on the disk drive," it began.
The same message is still on their "special" Firewire 800 page.
"Apple has identified an issue?"
This mealy-mouthed nonsense should have read:
"Apple finally marketed a new operating system which forever hosed or otherwise totally screwed up many people's crucial backup data if they had the misfortune to leave vulnerable external disks plugged in.
But we've forgotten how to say sorry."
The circumlocution was worthy of the worst of Micro$oft's infamous security notices.
Being without the Net for much of the week deprived me of all but a glimpse of the outraged desperation Cupertino's latest little mistake sparked in the Mac-risking community.

The latest 'A Vos Mac! (Fr.)' hurls it deliciously straight in a brief note on the news page, which, being translated, reads:

"There's no stopping progress.

After inventing the update that wipes your hard disk, Apple continues to innovate with Mac OS 10.2.8. This new version of the system stops you connecting to the Internet..."
That went to press even before the Panther joined the Club of Unpredictable Cats.
To be fair (but why? "Life isn't," my mother perhaps still loves to say), the lively French mag noted that Apple withdrew the offensive update as soon as they decided it had done enough damage.
But it can't be shouted enough: NEVER install an OS X update without checking out the wounds of those first over the wire, unless you've got a reliable backup or more than one Mac on which your life may partly depend.
Attacking the backup drives themselves was an original new tactic. The next thing we know, Jobs & Co. will be informing us:
"Apple has identified the issue in the first release of Mac X OS 10.3.4 that saw some computers running Windows XP instead. This update corrects your operating system. It fixes the Blank Screen of Death and adds improvements to the Inner Outer Mongolian, Ancient Egyptian and Venusian language fonts, Network Security, the size of the Panther's tail, and the mistyping errors identified in the Terminal application."

9:34:50 PM  link   your views? []

A pal, Yaco, asks where my write-up of 'Matrix Revolutions' is.
There won't be one, though the Kid and I were indeed near the front of the long, packed line a week ago at the Gaumont in "Picadilly Circus".
"Just go and see it," I suggested to Yaco. "Make up your own mind."
The nearest I got to a write-up was a cop-out at 'Blogcritics', where the last part of the trilogy has mostly been under fire. Chad Orzel, for instance, a physicist who's been in my blogroll for some time, had just one title word for it: "Revolting" (Uncertain Principles).

"I was going to venture to review this one myself, but given that I actually enjoyed most of it, with disbelief firmly suspended, I've got better things to do with my weekend than fight off the flak even a moderately nice review might bring!" was my own response to that.
"One thing I do think, though (and I suppose I could argue a case for it): part three for me redeemed some of the worst failings of part two, managing to make a little more structural sense, despite all the quibbles about a long list of improbabilities.
I wish the mysterious brothers and Joel Silver had had the courage of their initial convictions and made one coherent film out of 'Reloaded' and 'Revolutions'.
It could have been a lot tighter, with a good half-hour or more on the cutting room floor instead of on screen (I already got bored during the first battle between Neo and all those Smiths) and re-edited into a movie which would have been less of an overall disappointment after the deserved success of Matrix the ... emm, 'original'.
The fights, especially most of the business about the salvation of Zion, did leave much to be desired, I agree. But the hackneyed old themes of the exercise of free choice and -- wait for it -- even the redeeming power of love are not so shop-worn after all.
Unlike some of you, I did care what happened to Neo and Trinity -- and would also be generous enough not to begin a review here with a sodding spoiler."
There are no spoilers chez Chad (except in his links). The same day, Ken Edwards was much kinder.
To say anything much yet of what happens in 'Matrix Revolutions' would be nasty to anybody still planning to see it, while I can't imagine the queue filling with people who haven't already been hooked by earlier episodes.
A lot of the harshest criticism I've read about plot flaws and technical failings seems to my prejudiced eye -- and ear -- to miss several of the points about the 'Matrix' saga as a whole and the already too easily forgotten originality of an enterprise on this scale.
'The Matrix' ends as it begins, open to almost as many interpretations as it has original thinkers among its audience, an uneven venture with hosts of levels of meaning. That's a hallmark of successful myth, ancient or modern.
I suspect that it's in part because it took the Wachowski brothers (Ambidextrous Pictures), a committed cast and a determined producer four long years to get the whole project on to the screen -- and because we've already seen so many clones since the first movie -- that attack comes far more easily than defence.
Ken Edwards, latterly concerned with 'The Meatrix' (Breaking Windows), also does us a favour in his BC piece by taking good note of the development throughout 'The Matrix' of Don Davis's musical score, which is in itself a remarkable accomplishment.
Some -- me among them -- moaned at the outset when the soundtrack was released on two separate CDs, one (called simply 'Matrix') featuring Marilyn Manson, Deftones and plenty of metal, while the other ('The Matrix') gave us Davis's orchestral score, "only" half an hour's worth.
But I listened to those 30 minutes while waiting to get into 'Revolutions', further struck by the skilled coherence and the "avant-garde" nature of the work, which is only really avant-garde if you still find Janacek and Ligeti daringly modern.
The risk that Davis took, which he refines in the newly released score to 'Matrix Revolutions', was to venture something novel after serving mainly as music orchestrator for such banalities, by comparison, as 'Toy Story', 'A Bug's Life' and 'Titanic'.
Again, the originality of the achievement has been overshadowed by the flattery of more or less shabby imitations.

4:59:28 PM  link   your views? []

Security choppers all over London! Bah! "Save your tomatoes for Tony Blair," somebody said in the morning's news magazine, suggesting that while the current gang in the White House may be unpopular among many Britons, we still like Americans as a species and should indicate this by being nice to George Bush.
I didn't catch the man's name.
While he was Britain's Foreign Secretary, I used unkindly to refer to Robin Cook as the "bearded gnome", reflecting irritation at what I found an often arrogant outlook and patronising approach in interviews.
Either Cook has much changed in the past year or I have, or a bit of both, because I regret such lack of charity.
This morning he told us that he was "baffled" why the illiberal Bush should be given the honour of the first state visit to Britain by a US President since Woodrow Wilson. That was in 1918.

bushqueen"I never dreamt when I was living in Midland, Texas, that I would be staying in Buckingham Palace," the grotesque George reportedly said, according to a Beeb tale of "unprecedented security" for the hero of the Free World.
The hypocritical Bush and the worst of Britain's beleaguered royal family seem made for each other right now!
Blair, leader of a nation I suppose I still consider my first homeland, has blown it -- again -- with the state visit invite.

"Bush, who arrives in London on Tuesday and will stay at Buckingham Palace, plans to meet relatives of British soldiers killed in Iraq during the three-day visit.
"'There's two messages. One, the prayers of the American people and the prayers of the President are with them, as they suffer,' Bush told reporters from Press Association, The Daily Telegraph and the Financial Times.
"'Secondly, that I will tell them that their loved ones did not die in vain. The actions we have taken will make the world more secure and the world more peaceful in the long run.'"
The only problem being that a lot of such bereaved people are already saying they don't believe him.
The mild anger this nonsense, the damned lie in the tail of that Bush quote in an AP news story (on Yahoo!), bestirs in me may be a sign that I'll soon be ready enough to return to the Factory and resume editorial tackling of the idiocies of the planet's politics. As long as I've really learned to manage to prevent such a gut reaction from consuming me in the struggle strictly to keep it out of my own "objective" news-editing, since that was one of the factors that triggered the Condition.
Some people are so much hardier about digesting and regurgitating slime on a daily basis than I proved after 20 years of it. I scarcely know how they manage it any more.

Cook has steadily risen in my esteem since he quit Blair's band over Iraq (Guardian) in March, making a memorable speech (BBC) to tell us why.
Brushing aside the ill-feeling and potential mass protests in Britain against next week's state visit as "fashionable anti-Americanism," in the words of Jack Straw, is another marker on the steps the Blair government has taken down the risky road from sheer, mere -- and equally "fashionable" -- spin politicking to slime-trail diplomacy.
The current Foreign Secretary wanted to know why more of his compatriots are likely to object to the Bush visit on the streets than "ever they demonstrated against the brutal, vicious, horrible regime of Saddam Hussein."
In the wake of the war and in view of the current state of Iraq and the failure of western governments to get anywhere in contributing to any possible settlement of the conflict that has long been the running sore of the Middle East, over Palestine, such a question is not only outrageously disingenuous but profoundly stupid.

On 'Today' this morning, Cook said:

"What I can't understand is why we believe that President Bush has done more for Britain or has been a closer friend of Britain -- or a better supporter of Britain's foreign interests -- than any previous American President.
"Indeed, my anxiety about the relationship at the present time is that it has become very much a one-way street, in which it's perfectly plain what we have delivered to the Bush administration; it's not at all clear what the Bush administration has delivered for Britain."
Right on, Robin!
The Anglo-American "special relationship" has become such a matter of arse-licking (not to speak of the reconstruction contracts that will be at issue next week) under Blair that you're far better out of it than still close to those perilously thin-aired heights.

This is becoming the first time that I'm glad to see the extraordinary mess that is the British Tory Party showing signs of unity and possibly even intelligent life. While almost unchallenged and seemingly unstoppable, the Blair team has set Britain into a downhill political spin nearly as dangerous as the Thatcher era.
Frankly, what a dire choice there's been of late. The Conservatives had almost nothing to offer but a return to those 1979-90 days of "every swine for himself", while New Labour became the party of "we know what's best for you, children, which is why we decide what you can do and what you can't."
Just as Britain's governance looked at risk of becoming every bit as tediously predictable and mind-numbingly boring as most recent political activity this side of the Channel, Blair's up against something interesting.
It's called an Opposition. I thought it might be worth pointing out because too many people up there in cloud-cuckoo land seem to have forgotten the meaning of the word.

12:48:06 PM  link   your views? []

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