1. Macworld/iWorld Rescheduled to Late March

    April 01, 2013

    This seems like the sort of lame-shit joke that a tech blog would make on April 1st; but apparently it’s legit.

    This is probably a good move on IDG’s part. I can speak from personal experience when I say that attending the conference in late-January / early-February has been a pain in the ass. For example, here are the factors that I have had to overcome to attend past shows:

    • My company resets all vacation time on January 1st, and I don’t accrue enough to cover all of Macworld by late January.
    • Because my company resets vacation time at the start of the year, I usually take a large chunk of time in late December. It’s a bit awkward to ask for the better part of a week off a mere month later.
    • January 31st is the end of my company’s fiscal year. That means we’re usually rushing to complete our courseware releases that week to meet our End-of-Year goals.

    March 27—-March 29 will be vastly more convenient for me, and I imagine for many others as well.

  2. The Angry Drunk 3.0 - Technical Changes

    March 27, 2013

    As mentioned earlier, in relaunching the site I decided it was time for some major architectural changes. Previously The Angry Drunk was a self-hosted WordPress blog. As of now it is a self-hosted static blog powered by the Pelican static blogging platform.

    I’ve been asked why I moved to a static platform. Honestly it had nothing to do with page-load speeds, or database loads, or possible Fireballing (like that will ever happen again). Properly configured and maintained, a WordPress blog can be just as secure and speedy as a static blog. The problem is the word “maintained”. Keeping a WordPress blog properly updated is constant work. I intimated in earlier posts that just writing here has become a chore—imagine how much of a chore it was to keep WordPress updated for a blog I had no interest in.

    So why Pelican? Honestly, no real reason. I’ve been auditioning static blogging engines for some time, and they’re all about the same. Pelican’s internals were easy enough to work with and its templating system is a breeze. My major deciding factor was the excellent articles that Gabe Weatherhead has written about his migration from WordPress to Pelican at the Macdrifter blog.

    This is the point where I’m supposed to write-up my journey from database hell to Markdown bliss…sorry, ain’t gonna happen. If you’re interested I highly suggest reading Gabe’s articles. Just do a search on his site for “pelican” and read there. If anyone has any specific questions I’d be happy to answer them in the comments or via email or Twitter. One part of my setup that I will write up in detail is how I’m using Dropbox as a universal content repository so I can manage this joint from anywhere with Dropbox access—but that will come later.

    Now to comment on some specific changes:

    • The theme has been updated slightly. Call it “flat design” call it “minimalist” whatever.
    • Site search is now being handled by DuckDuckGo. Since the URL scheme hasn’t changed, things should just work. If they don’t let me know.
    • I’ve left the Disqus comments enabled. It was honestly more work to remove them.

    There you have it. The Angry Drunk 3.0 is now live.

  3. The Angry Drunk 3.0

    March 27, 2013

    Welcome to The Angry Drunk 3.0, the third major revision of this site. As any of the few remaining readers here know, the posting frequency here has fallen off drastically in the last few months. There are few reasons for this—which I won’t dive into too deeply here—but the upshot is a complete revamp of the site; including a new architecture and, hopefully, a new focus. The majority of my reasons for pulling back from tech blogging can actually be summed up in an earlier post. To quote myself:

    The simple truth is, the thought of writing another “take-down” of some other blogger’s dumb-shit opinion now leaves me sick to my stomach. The fact is, those of us who tried to shout down the rising tide of fucktardery were about as successful as King Cnut’s attempt to command the waves. The rumormongers and financial bloggers and gadget obsessed hipsters won. Oh well, c’est la vie.

    My stance on this hasn’t changed. As far as I’m concerned, the tech blogosphere has collapsed into a largely worthless echo-chamber filled with idiotic babble about Apple’s share price and moronic product rumors. As a result I’m officially re-launching The Angry Drunk in the way I first intended to run it almost six years ago. I’ll expand on my intended content changes below and the technical changes in a later post.

    I suppose the easiest way to explain my intended vision for the content here is to start by explaining what The Angry Drunk will not be. The Angry Drunk is not:

    • yet another lame clone of Daring Fireball or The Loop. I don’t want this taken the wrong way. I have a great deal of respect for John Gruber and Jim Dalrymple. I also think that there are many other people out there writing smart, insightful things about tech. There’s also a massive echo-chamber that repeats the same trite “analysis” and bandies about links to said “analysis”. Maybe these sites are in it for the Google juice, maybe they just took a look at Daring Fireball and decided that that’s how things are to be done. Either way, it adds little to the discourse and I refuse to be a party to it any longer.

      That isn’t to say that I’m never going to post a “linked-list” style item again. Or never comment on someone else’s analysis. It does mean that I will strive to link to content that hasn’t already taken a turn though the echo-chamber and refrain from commentary where I can’t add anything of significance.

    • exclusively focused on technology and Apple. I’ve always tried to keep The Angry Drunk from becoming an “Apple” blog—what with the political, food and other miscellaneous posts. In keeping with the above point I’m going to be making an extra effort to write about the things that interest me and hopefully will interest my readers.

    • an exercise in self-indulgence. I know. By merely existing this blog is an exercise in self-indulgence. To be brutally honest; if the majority of blogs—tech or otherwise—were to disappear from the face of the planet no one would be worse off.

      What I’m referring to here is the recent emergence of a certain class of bloggers who seem to think that they’re the second coming of David Foster Wallace. We get it, you have deep, profound things to say about the state of artisanal Peruvian footwear. That doesn’t mean that every shimmering golden phrase that slides so effortlessly from your buckling-spring keyboard is inspired by Calliope herself. If the blogosphere in its entirety were to take itself far less seriously the state of discourse would improve immensely.

    • not a text version of Angry Mac Bastards. I realize there’s a certain irony to this statement given that it was my ranting here that introduced me to my AMB partners in crime. These days, however, I just don’t have the rage in me to duplicate my podcast fury here. I will certainly continue to call out stupid shit here as well; but don’t expect there to be a huge amount of overlap.

    So, what does all that mean? The bottom line is I’m going to try to write about the things that interest me—in a way that I hope will be interesting for people to read. I don’t intend on offering memberships, or accepting sponsorships, or serving advertisements. This is intentional. The Angry Drunk 3.0 is returning to being my personal blog. The writing here will be—first and foremost—for me. If that is of interest to you, good. If not, there are plenty of other bloggers in the sea.

    More on the technical changes in a bit.

  4. 200 Weeks in Hell

    March 26, 2013

    I suppose it bears noting that Angry Mac Bastards, the world’s most beloved podcast about idiotic tech media and unicorn fetish porn has managed to hobble its way into our 200th episode. Thanks to John, Peter and all our guests over the years for making that happen. And a hearty fuck you to the shit-sipping tech media that have made it necessary.

  5. Feedburnin’

    March 22, 2013

    Since it seems to be the thing to do this week, I’d like to take the time to point out that the canonical feed URL for The Angry Drunk is http://www.theangrydrunk.com/feed/ If you’re using the old Feedburner URL and want to switch, feel free. I’m not rushing to disable Feedburner any time soon. On the other hand, I’m doing zero work to maintain the Feedburner feed, so if it dies I’m not fixing it.

  6. Google Reader & Free Services

    March 14, 2013

    Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last few hours you’re probably aware that Google has announced that they are killing Google Reader effectively July 1st. This inevitably led to tidal wave of The Usual Suspects™ parroting the hoary cliché “that’s what you get for using a free service.” While it is unquestionably true that the users of free services have little to no recourse when a company decides that maintaining a service is no longer contributing to their bottom line, the sentiment is also sort of stupid.

    The implication of “don’t use free services” is that paid services are somehow better. I wonder what sort of candy-land universe these pundits live in where paid-for services are never discontinued. Perhaps they should ask the former users of the (paid) email app Sparrow how that works.

    The real takeaway from the shut-down of Google Reader is not that free services suck—-or that paid services are magically better—-it’s that users should always have a backup plan for products and services that they find essential. The takeaway for developers of products that rely on 3rd party services is that they should never become complacent. They should always have a plan for maintaining their product after a 3rd party service goes tits up. That applies to all services: Google, Apple, Dropbox—-even everyone’s darling App.net.

  7. Shortsighted

    March 04, 2013

    It’s commonly accepted that “techie” types exist in a constant state of enthusiasm for the future — incessantly seeking out the next cool technology. I disagree with that notion. I believe that most “techie” types actually exists in a sort of punctuated equilibrium. To be sure, that frenzy over the next new shiny tech gizmo certainly exists; but often it is separated by large stretches where the tech luminaries espouse a sort of short-sighted anti-innovation conservatism that would make Ned Ludd proud.

    Take, for example, some of the responses to Google’s “Glass” project.

    I want to state at the start that I’m not arguing that Glass is a great product; or that all the negative responses to it are invalid. Readers of this blog shouldn’t be surprised to read that I’m actually very skeptical of Glass as a product. While I’m keenly interested in wearable computing, the thought of Google being the company to take the lead in that area is terrifying. Jokes about Glass pumping advertising into users eye-holes are all too prophetic. That said, there has been a sadly disappointing trend in some of the negative responses to dismiss Google Glass — and Heads Up Display (HUD) style wearable computing in general — as variously “uncool”, “worthless”, “stupid”, and “harmful”.

    I’m not going to link to or debate specific articles. What I want to discuss are some of the over-arching themes that I’ve seen. Specifically:

    • HUDs are bad because they are distracting.
    • HUDs prevent people from being “in the moment”.
    • HUDs promote “over sharing”.
    • Ubiquitous access to information makes people “dumber”.
    • HUDs make you look like a greasy nerd.

    The “distraction” argument is one that I actually will concede is a real danger of HUD-based wearable computing. No one but a complete loon (or perhaps Sergey Brin) would argue that projecting graphics into a person’s visual field on an ongoing basis doesn’t create the potential for dangerous distraction. But really this is a matter of degree. Certainly obscured vision is dangerous; but so are many other things related to our current technological lifestyles: impaired hearing from wearing ear-buds, talking on a cell phone while driving/walking, looking at a cell-phone while driving/walking, the list goes on. Hell, I bet that primitive screw-heads looked at the first pocket-watch and said, “Holy shit, someone’s going to be looking at that and fall down a well!” As functioning humans we deal with distracting things on an ongoing basis. If the past is any indicator of the future people who wish to remain among the living will figure out how to use HUD-based computers without driving off a cliff.

    The “in the moment” argument and the “over sharing” argument are actually pretty similar. They usually go something like: “Hey nerd, why are you taking a video of that awesome rainbow when you could be enjoying it” and “Great, just what we need, more nerds sharing pictures of their breakfast”. As with the “distraction” argument, the simplest way to dismiss these arguments is to look as the present and past. We’ve all seen the social-media addict at some event spending more time tweeting about it than enjoying it. Or the inane parade of Instagram photos of people’s food. Not being engaged in one’s surroundings, or overly sharing are people problems —- not technological problems. In fact, HUD-based computing should actually allow people to be more engaged in their lives…even as they obsessively share them.

    The “tech makes us dumb” argument is so old that I’m sure someone used it on Johannes Gutenberg. Every advance in access to information that I’ve experienced in my lifetime — widespread computer adoption, the proliferation of cable television, the Internet, smartphones — has been met by a contingent of people claiming that increased access to information will somehow turn our brains to a pasty sludge. This is rank nonsense. Increased access to information can only make us better as a society. Sure, some people are lazy shits who can’t think for themselves; but making them work harder for information won’t make them smarter — they’ll just stop looking.

    The argument that Google Glass makes you look like a dork is simultaneously true and utterly dumb. Sure, Glass looks retarded now but so did the first Bluetooth headsets. The point is that society’s perceptions change. Yes, the first batch of nerds walking around in HUDs will be laughingstocks, but eventually HUDs will be seen as just another accessory.

    I believe that there is a clear progression in computing. The overall path has been smaller, faster, more connected, and more ubiquitous1. I also believe that wearable computing, in particular HUD-based computing, is the next logical step in that progression. It’s somewhat sad to see writers who pride themselves on their technical savvy dismiss the concept out of hand — but it’s actually not that unexpected.

    1. Some of my thoughts on “ubiquitous” computing can be found here 

  8. We’re Doomed as a Society

    November 09, 2012

    This morning a link popped up in my RSS stream from Boing Boing pointing out a new line of artisanal crap from Williams-Sonoma named Agrarian1 featuring garden supplies marketed to worthless hipster shit-bags with more money that sense.

    Among the overpriced pre-fabricated chicken coops2 I found this lovely piece of crap. For those too lazy to click the link, the item is question is a $200.00, hand-crafted, copper-headed shovel. I’m just not drunk enough to fathom the rational that would lead someone to click the Add to Basket button. I imagine it goes something like this:

    I really need a spade to till my nine square-foot urban “garden” but I can’t possibly be seen using something as proletariat as this3. I know, I’ll hie myself over to the Williams-Sonoma website and see if there is a product that speaks to a connoisseur authentic hand-crafted artisanal artifacts.”

    Ultimately, what truly enrages me about shit like this isn’t that some company has managed to figure out how to fleece hipster twats. Good on them for taking those moron’s hard-earned4 money. What enrages me is that, for all their talk of “sustainable living” and “natural food” and whatever other bullshit buzzwords the kids are flinging about these days, I would bet dollars to donuts that not a single one of these shovels sold will ever be used. Oh sure, the kiddies will turn a few spadefuls of earth to say they’ve used this thing but after that it will be hung in a nice prominent place in their impeccably arranged—-and seldom used—-garden shed. And as for actual sustainability, I’ll go with the cheap-ass steel shovel linked above. I have working spades that were old when I inherited them from my father 25 years ago.

    There’s a word for people who value the appearance of a skill over the real skill itself. We call those people dilettantes. Anyone who would buy something from Williams-Sonoma’s Agrarian collection is a fucking dilettante; nothing more, nothing less. My only consolation is that they’ll be the first free-range artisanal Soylent Green© I’ll eat when things go all ThunderDome.

    1. I assume you’re intended to pronounce the word with as much dramatic flair as possible. Agraariiaan 

    2. The last thing I need is yet another hipster twat in my neighborhood deciding to keep chickens. 

    3. $14.97 at The Home Depot. More Saving More Doing™ 

    4. By their parents