Los Stinkpads

November 13, 2005

OK, I’m sure you’re all sick of my whining about hardware, so hopefully this will be the final episode for awhile.

So when I called IBM to get the miniPCI card on my T42 (which I decided to name Omaha, by the way) fixed, they told me I’d voided my warranty by installing Linux but if I took it into the shop and the paid professionals determined that my problem was entirely hardware related, IBM would honor the warranty. Piss on that, I just went out and bought an external wifi card. Problem solved! At Fry’s I was interested to see that a lot of wireless cards are now USB rather than PC card.

Next I plunged into the saga of turning my R31 back from a Linux box to a Windows machine. I got to spend a lot of quality time this weekend contemplating the great truth that if you delete the Windows bootloader (aka NTLDR) from the Master Boot Partition AND you have an IBM recovery disk instead of a legit XP disk, you are so screwed. The journey to recovery involved scoring a sketchily-licensed copy of XP from a friend, vacuuming all the dust inside my lappy so it wouldn’t keep overheating, and finally buying and installing a whole new (power-sucking) hard drive. But hey, I got a BIOS upgrade and a new screwdriver out of the deal, so who says 12 hours of my life was utterly wasted?

Online trust

November 13, 2005

A well-known social networking site recently sent me an invitation to join their userbase, supposedly initiated by a former coworker of mine. I guess a lot of other people got these things too, and I was interested to see that the spokesperson for the company waved off criticism by claiming that my email was part of a “one-time mailing to people who were once invited but never joined the network”. I’m in a very good position to know that my former coworker did not invite me to (re)join the network after I quit it on August 31, 2004… so basically I’d have to conclude that the company in question is compounding their spamming by lying.

This reminds me of a dinner I recently had with a friend who was “convicted” of running a link farm by the judge, jury, and executioner that is Google. The Goog claimed they had discovered his malfeasances through some sort of super-intelligent artificial intelligence thingie… when in fact a well-known blogger had outed my friend a couple days earlier. Google of course consistently tries to maintain the claim that human hands never touch their index, when there is now a small mountain of evidence that they do. The interesting thing is that after this experience, my friend was now dubious of how Google was counting Adsense clicks.

I guess my point here is that Web businesses that deal in personal data really shouldn’t lie. Even a very small lie undermines their credibility to a vastly magnified extent — because all they’re ultimately selling is bits, and if you can’t trust the bits there’s no countervailing value to be offered. It seems like such an obvious thing, I feel sort of dumb saying it… but on the Internet, as the poet says, there’s always someone somewhere with a big nose who knows and who’ll trip you up and laugh when you fall.