The Core Dump The Core Dump is the online home of Nic Lindh, a Swedish-American man living in the Sonoran desert. 2014-09-12T10:04:58-07:00 http://thecoredump.org/ Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License. The WATCH is nigh, and I don't get it Nic Lindh http://thecoredump.org/ 2014-09-11T00:00:00-07:00 http://thecoredump.org/2014/09/the-watch-is-nigh-and-i-dont-get-it/ <p>Turns out I&rsquo;m a <a href="http://thecoredump.org/2014/09/apple-might-enter-the-home-integration-field/">terrible Apple precog</a> and despite my convictions that the hype must mean something grander was afoot, the products Apple announced at its Sept. 9 event were straight out of what the rumor mill had skried: New iPhones, a grab bag of smaller announcements, and of course the WATCH.</p> <p>The phones make sense. Bigger, faster, stronger, etc. </p> <p>But I have a hard time with the WATCH. It&rsquo;s just what you would expect if Apple were to enter the smartwatch market: A much nicer version of what&rsquo;s already out there, poised to occupy the high end of the market.</p> <p>I had <a href="http://thecoredump.org/2014/07/the-rumored-iwatch-wont-be-what-you-think/">assumed they would aim higher than that</a>, and I don&rsquo;t get how large the market Apple is going for is. For a company that habitually sells umpteen millions of things, it seems very niche. For example, according to Apple there are more than 200 million iPhone 5 and up in the world. That&rsquo;s the kind of market Apple has.</p> <p>And no, this isn&rsquo;t a &ldquo;random nerd on the Internet knows better than Apple&rdquo; post; it&rsquo;s a &ldquo;random nerd on the Internet doesn&rsquo;t understand what Apple is doing&rdquo; post.</p> <p>Apple&rsquo;s leadership know their business. It would be arrogant beyond belief to assume they don&rsquo;t. Which means they know something I don&rsquo;t. Because I can&rsquo;t see the smartwatch market being large enough to bet the company on.</p> <p>A smartwatch is a consumer electronics product, one you discard for the next, better, version after a few years, while fancy watches (or, &ldquo;<a href="https://www.google.com/search?q=haute+horlogerie">haute horlogerie</a>,&rdquo; which apparently are two real words used by English-speaking humans) are things you purchase and hope to pass on to your children at some point.</p> <p>I can&rsquo;t see the overlap there.</p> <p>And the next time you&rsquo;re at a high school or university campus, look at people&rsquo;s wrists: these days they&rsquo;re even devoid of yellow Live Strong armbands. It seems like a high bar to set for yourself that you&rsquo;re going to get the masses to spend $350 and more on an iPhone-only accessory that requires you to pick up new habits.</p> <p>At this point I can only assume Apple knows things I don&rsquo;t, and it will be very interesting to watch this play out.</p> <p>As to myself, I&rsquo;m already a <a href="https://getpebble.com/">Pebble</a> nerd, so of course I&rsquo;m buying an WATCH the second I can punch my credit card into a Web form for it. But I&rsquo;m not so sure about the rest of the world.</p> <p>Interesting times.</p> Apple might enter the home integration field Nic Lindh http://thecoredump.org/ 2014-09-08T00:00:00-07:00 http://thecoredump.org/2014/09/apple-might-enter-the-home-integration-field/ <p><strong>[Post-keynote update]</strong> Well, I&rsquo;m certainly no Nostradamus. Sigh. And effing U2 to rub salt in the wound. <strong>[/Update]</strong></p> <p>As usual this time of the year, the nerdosphere is all-aflutter with predictions about tomorrow&rsquo;s big Apple event, with the most common speculation being two new, larger, iPhones and the long-awaited and mysterious wearable device.</p> <p>(As an aside here, kudos to Apple for their Kremlin-level security—apart from the predictable iPhone parts from the supply chain, nobody has anything concrete&hellip;)</p> <p>But take a step back and think about Apple&rsquo;s core competency: Find a technology that&rsquo;s out there and has the potential to become <em>huge</em> but is mired in neckbeardery. </p> <p>The first home computers—huge potential, but required soldering; the first PCs—huge potential, but required mastery of command-line arcana to accomplish anything useful; MP3-players—huge potential, but required headache-inducing amounts of technical jiggery-pokery to get your songs actually on to the devices; smartphones—huge potential, but required endless patience and button-mashing to accomplish magical things like syncing your contacts.</p> <p>There&rsquo;s a massive market out there ripe for exactly this kind of swooping in and making the technology useful and attractive to normal people: Home automation. The technology is out there, it&rsquo;s just hidden in needless complications and über-nerd-think. Make it usable by—and attractive to—normal humans, and there&rsquo;s billions of dollars to make as well as the opportunity to improve peoples&#39; lives.</p> <p>Plus, think about it: Apple <em>built a house</em> by the conference center. Hmmm? Might that be useful to show off their home integration technology?</p> <p>Or, I could end up looking like an idiot tomorrow&hellip;</p> An Apple ebook reader would be nice Nic Lindh http://thecoredump.org/ 2014-08-23T00:00:00-07:00 http://thecoredump.org/2014/08/an-apple-ebook-reader-would-be-nice/ <p><img src="/images/kindle-sideways.jpg" /></p> <p>The Kindle changed my life—being able to carry around my books on a small, lightweight device that looks close-enough to paper, is readable in sunlight and in the dark, lets me change the font and font size depending on my needs, and has fantastic battery life is so future. Going on a trip? Load up more books than you think you need on the device. Find out while on the trip there&rsquo;s a new book you want? Buy it right there.</p> <p><em>Future.</em></p> <p>But of course, being a <a href="http://5by5.tv/tdb">tech douchebag</a>, I have problems with it. First off, the Kindle is made by Amazon to be as cheap as possible. This makes sense based on Amazon&rsquo;s business model and is a decision I understand, but it means it turns pages slowly, sometimes stutters, occasionally crashes, sometimes the backlight doesn&rsquo;t turn off when you put the device to sleep so you have to reboot it, and the software is &hellip; usable, not lovable.</p> <p>So there&rsquo;s this company called Apple that makes beautiful devices with great software. Apple also runs an ebook bookstore. But Apple seems to have zero interest in making a reading device. Which also makes sense, given that their business model is to make a small matrix of great devices focused on the higher end where the profit margins live.</p> <p>But, you know, at this point, since I do the vast majority of my reading on the Kindle, I&rsquo;m completely in the Amazon ecosystem for ebooks. If I wanted to start buying my ebooks from Apple I&rsquo;d have to manually de-DRM and convert them to AWZ3. Which it is within my technical grasp to do, but would be a pain in the nethers, and I wouldn&rsquo;t be able to have them in sync across my devices. (If I have an unexpected 20 minutes of waiting somewhere, like at the tire store or whatnot, I&rsquo;ll use the Kindle app on my iPhone to read. Having the books just magically synced for those occasions is also quite future.)</p> <p>I get that one of the secrets to Apple&rsquo;s success is focus, but if you&rsquo;ve already <a href="http://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/2014/07/16/apple-ebooks-prices/12734921/">taken the rap for price fixing</a> and you have any kind of serious interest in selling ebooks, why wouldn&rsquo;t you make a reader?</p> <p>Apple might think the iPad is a fine reader, so just use that. Which is understandable, and is underscored by Amazon releasing their Kindle tablets with LCD screens. (And thanks, Amazon, for muddling the Kindle brand with a non-e-ink device with the same name as your e-ink device.)</p> <p>But if you&rsquo;re a serious reader, no, you don&rsquo;t want to read on an LCD instead of an e-ink display. Nope. It&rsquo;s a completely different experience, and for the pure task of just reading words, an LCD is inferior in every way. And serious readers spend real money on their ebooks. You&rsquo;d think that would a nice niche for Apple to take over.</p> <p>Plus, think how great a $200 Apple e-ink tablet could be, with none of the &ldquo;ugh&rdquo; moments of the Kindle.</p> <p>It sure would be nice. Oh, well.</p> Flashing a Gigabyte BIOS should be easier than this Nic Lindh http://thecoredump.org/ 2014-08-19T00:00:00-07:00 http://thecoredump.org/2014/08/flashing-a-gigabyte-bios-should-be-easier-than-this/ <p><strong>This post is just here so Google can find it and hopefully save some other poor soul some time.</strong></p> <p>And lo, there is much sadness in the land of the Hackintosh, as <a href="http://thecoredump.org/2014/02/the-mac-homegrown/">my machine</a> with a Gigabyte H87n-WiFi board has an unfortunate tendency to keel over every few weeks: Hard lock, nothing in the logs, just instant death. So I&rsquo;ve been looking around for what to do to get this otherwise excellent rig to stop having seizures. And <em>sigh</em> there&rsquo;s a lot of magical thinking in Hackintosh land. But going back to first principles it makes sense to update the BIOS to see if Gigabyte fixed some bugs. Can&rsquo;t be too hard, right? It&rsquo;s just a BIOS update, right? Like we&rsquo;ve been doing for <em>effing decades</em>, right?</p> <p>Well, gather round, children while uncle Nic tells you a sad tale. </p> <p>Turns out Gigabyte have finally realized that not everybody who buys their boards are running Windows (thank you!) so you no longer have to download a weird Windows app to update the motherboard. Which, when you think about it, was <em>insane</em>. But those dark days are behind us now: Newer GigaByte boards have a Q-Flash utility right on the BIOS. You download the updater, put it on a FAT-formatted USB stick and boom! </p> <p>Except you&rsquo;ll get a &ldquo;File size incorrect!&rdquo; error.</p> <p>Urgh.</p> <p>So let&rsquo;s Google that. And get a lot of noise about how the BIOS file got too big so you have to use a Windows utility called @Bios to update the BIOS to make it understand the BIOS is larger now.</p> <p>Say it with me, kids: &ldquo;Sigh.&rdquo;</p> <p>This turns out to be incorrect. The BIOS file you download from Gigabyte is a zip file and you have to decompress it, then put the actual update file on the USB stick and you&rsquo;ll be golden. Hint: The actual flash file is the one that doesn&rsquo;t end in .exe or .bat.</p> <p>At this point you may be asking yourself things like, &ldquo;Couldn&rsquo;t Gigabyte just have put this information in the Readme file?&rdquo; or &ldquo;Shouldn&rsquo;t people not post shit on the Internet where they&rsquo;re just guessing?&rdquo;</p> <p>Those are valid questions, indeed.</p> <p>But for now, go forth and update ye olde BIOS firmware and put thine thumbs together to hope it fixes thine problem.</p> <p>In the meantime I&rsquo;ll be over here shaking my head.</p> Red immigration meat in the Arizona primaries Nic Lindh http://thecoredump.org/ 2014-08-02T00:00:00-07:00 http://thecoredump.org/2014/08/red-immigration-meat-in-the-arizona-primaries/ <p><img src="/images/statue-of-liberty.jpg" /></p> <p>Arizona is electing a new governor this year and the primary elections are upon us. This means the candidates are playing to their base and since there isn&rsquo;t a snow flake&rsquo;s chance in hell of a Democrat being elected governor here without Joe Arpaio&rsquo;s blessing, the spotlight is on the Republican field. And as you&rsquo;d predict, the Republican field is playing a hard game of being <a href="http://www.azcentral.com/story/news/politics/immigration/2014/07/11/arizona-illegal-immigration-kids-governors-race/12512267/">further to the right than everybody else</a>. Which in Arizona is far, far indeed. </p> <p>The candidates seem to have all settled on illegal immigration and, to a lesser extent, ObamaCare, as their push-button issues for this primary season, with all of them promising to be harsher on illegal immigrants than the next.</p> <p>Which is interesting, in a sad way, since the border is a <em>federal</em> issue and something state governors have no control over. You know, what with the Constitution. Which of course hasn&rsquo;t stopped any of the current crop of candidates from laying out their plans to seal the border. Which, again, they legally can&rsquo;t do. <em>Sigh.</em></p> <p>But the base wants red meat, and red meat is what the base is going to get.</p> <p>Former GoDaddy executive Jones has perhaps the most coherent idea (faint praise indeed), <a href="http://www.azcentral.com/story/opinion/op-ed/2014/07/31/christine-jones-securing-border-priority/13382709/">where she&rsquo;d spend a bunch of money to build a fence, deploy troops, etc. and then send the bill to the federal government</a>.</p> <p><em>Uh-huh.</em> That would go over just as well as my daughter sending me a bill for labor she performed doing her chores.</p> <p>It&rsquo;s pretty amazing. But then, they&rsquo;re playing for the base of extremely agitated old and not very educated white people who want the brown people stopped, dammit! Stopped! <em>What part of illegal don&rsquo;t you understand?</em></p> <p>The border between the US and Mexico is <a href="http://fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/RS21729.pdf">estimated at 1,933 miles long</a>. For comparison, the Wall of China is <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Wall_of_China">5,500 miles long</a>. And the Wall of China was mostly built to <em>keep people in</em>. Fencing the entire border between the US and Mexico would cost an astronomical sum. And it turns out the state of Arizona is quite broke. (And New Mexico and Texas aren&rsquo;t exactly full of chests of gold.)</p> <p>Building a Berlin Wall across the entire border is a ridiculous idea as anybody who&rsquo;s glanced at a map knows. </p> <p><em>But</em> there <em>are</em> realistic ways to significantly lower illegal immigration.</p> <p>The far-right crowd running for Arizona governor is correct in that the federal government is doing a poor job of enforcing the border. It&rsquo;s notoriously porous and most of the border defense is security theater.</p> <p>But haven&rsquo;t you wondered: Why is that? One thing I&rsquo;ve learned in life is that when a bunch of people come up with a product and it&rsquo;s bad, it&rsquo;s not because those people are uniquely stupid. It&rsquo;s that they are operating under a set of constraints I don&rsquo;t know about. Using that idea, why is current US border security so bad?</p> <p>Well, duh, because the people in charge don&rsquo;t want it to be good.</p> <p>Think about illegal immigration as a push-pull. There are people who desperately need to leave the places they were born. In most places we would call them &ldquo;refugees&rdquo; but in America today we have decided to call them &ldquo;illegals.&rdquo; Be that as it may. Then there is a pull: America desperately needs exploitable people to work in the agriculture and service industries; people to mow golf greens, clean hotel rooms, pick melons, and clean cars. The current economics of those industries can <em>not</em> work if they have to pay their workers the minimum wage. Can. Not. </p> <p>The agriculture and service industries in America need an exploitable class of workers.</p> <p>Those are the jobs illegals come to America to get. Not your job, white guy. Truly terrible jobs that a civilized society would outlaw. Those are the jobs the scary brown people come here to steal.</p> <p>And that&rsquo;s why the border stays porous: Those industries need a steady stream of workers to replace the ones they wear out. And those industries make more than enough money to influence Congress.</p> <p>So, you have a push of people escaping unbearable conditions and a pull of companies needing workers to exploit. and the stream of people across the border will continue as long as that is the case.</p> <p>Building a Quixotic fence across a 1,993 mile border is a delusional fantasy, but if you&rsquo;re serious about stopping the flow of illegal immigration, here are two things that would work:</p> <ol> <li><p>Nation building in Mexico and Latin America to make those countries not be unbearable shitholes. They don&rsquo;t have to become utopias by any means, just not so horrible that risking your life is worth it to leave. This would cost way less than we already spent in Iraq and Afghanistan and would actually improve lives.</p></li> <li><p>Make it a felony to hire an illegal worker. This would dry up the job market for illegals very quickly, and without jobs the stream of people crossing the border would stop. Problem solved, right? Except it would mean putting wealthy white people in jail, so, good luck getting that passed.</p></li> </ol> <p>Those are the two things fueling illegal immigration: &ldquo;Life where I am sucks so bad I&rsquo;m willing to die to get out of here&rdquo; and &ldquo;I need some people working for nothing that I can kick around&rdquo;. Fix either one and the problem gets better; fix both and the problem disappears.</p> <p>But for the Arizona primary voters it&rsquo;s so much more satisfying to imagine an Alamo where they&rsquo;re standing tall next to their mobility scooter, wrapped in the flag, pointing their AR-15s at the dusky crowd of snarling illegals, yelling, &ldquo;Here&rsquo;s my damn fence!&rdquo;</p> <p>The main thing the <em>What part of illegal don&rsquo;t you understand</em> crowd willfully refuses to acknowledge is that these are human beings making a rational choice. (Yes, it turns out Mexicans are people.) They are mostly uneducated, but they are not idiots. These are people looking around and saying to themselves, &ldquo;My situation is bad enough that making a journey that may well kill me and <em>best case</em> ends up in indentured servitude, looking over my shoulder for the cops every day of my life, is <em>better</em> than my current existence.&rdquo; </p> <p>Illegal immigrants aren&rsquo;t mindless zombies. They are humans. And they are making the kind of horrible choice I sure hope my privileged white ass never has to make.</p> <p>That&rsquo;s why they are coming. <em>Things are that bad where they are.</em></p> <p>It&rsquo;ll probably make the angry old white people even angrier to learn that illegal immigrants aren&rsquo;t fueled by some idealized idea of America the beautiful. They are running <em>from</em> a fire, not running <em>to</em> a paradise. Not to put words in anybody&rsquo;s mouth, of course, but when your house is on fire you don&rsquo;t dream of a mansion—you just have to get out. And America is right there, a place where you&rsquo;re not starving or having a smirking gang member tell you your daughter is going to be raped next.</p> Book roundup, part 15 Nic Lindh http://thecoredump.org/ 2014-07-20T00:00:00-07:00 http://thecoredump.org/2014/07/book-roundup-part-15/ <h3><a href="http://www.amazon.com/Console-Wars-Nintendo-Defined-Generation-ebook/dp/B00FJ379XE/ref=sr_1_1_bnp_1_kin?sr=8-1&amp;ie=UTF8&amp;keywords=console%2Bwars&amp;tag=thecoredump-20&amp;qid=1405821695">Console Wars, by Blake Harris</a> ★★★☆☆</h3> <p>The story of how Sega rose to challenge Nintendo&rsquo;s market dominance in the early 1990s. Well researched and sourced and tells the story of an interesting era in video console gaming.</p> <p>The book is upfront about how much time has passed since the events it chronicles and that quotes are mostly made up and intended to capture the essence and spirit of conversations rather than being verbatim, which is fine, but unfortunately Harris is far from an Elmore Leonard, so most of the conversations read awkward and odd, which detracts from the immediacy of the narrative in a fatal way. </p> <p><em>Console Wars</em> could also have benefited from another proofreading pass—there are instances of missing words and misplaced quote marks in too many places. Though unless you&rsquo;re plagued with a proofreading eye that won&rsquo;t shut off, it won&rsquo;t bother you.</p> <p>Despite its faults, it&rsquo;s worth reading for a very interesting look at a pivotal time of video gaming.</p> <h3><a href="http://www.amazon.com/Your-Inner-Fish-Journey-3-5-Billion-Year-ebook/dp/B0010SKTRA/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&amp;sr=1-1&amp;s=books&amp;keywords=your%2Binner%2Bfish&amp;tag=thecoredump-20&amp;qid=1405908996">Your Inner Fish, by Neil Shubin</a> ★★★★☆</h3> <p>A wonderful journey back in time through our and our ancestors&#39; anatomy, Shubin shows how we can trace the shape of our bodies—especially the arms—back through the mists of time.</p> <p><em>Your Inner Fish</em> is a wonderful read, unravelling evolution through time with joy and wonder. Highly recommended.</p> <h3><a href="http://www.amazon.com/Flash-Boys-Michael-Lewis-ebook/dp/B00HVJB4VM/ref=sr_1_1_title_1_kin?ie=UTF8&amp;sr=1-1&amp;s=books&amp;keywords=flash%2Bboys%2Bmichael%2Blewis&amp;tag=thecoredump-20&amp;qid=1405909455">Flash Boys, by Michael Lewis</a> ★★★★☆</h3> <p>This book made me very, very angry, and it will probably do the same to you. As usual, Lewis writes with flair and draws out the human drama in what could be excruciatingly dry material, this time about high frequency trading. Which as it turns out is a parasite on the stock market and thus on our entire global economy.</p> <p><em>Flash Boys</em> is required reading.</p> <h3><a href="http://www.amazon.com/Digital-Wars-Google-Microsoft-Internet-ebook/dp/B007C1T1D2/ref=sr_1_1_bnp_1_kin?sr=8-1&amp;ie=UTF8&amp;keywords=digital%2Bwars&amp;tag=thecoredump-20&amp;qid=1397684658">Digital Wars, by Charles Arthur</a> ★★★★☆</h3> <p>Chronicles the battle between Apple, Google and Microsoft for the future of computing, focusing on search and mobile.</p> <p><em>Digital Wars</em> is well sourced, especially inside Microsoft, and reads almost like a techno-thriller in its descriptions of the thinking inside the companies. </p> <p>Arthus is best sourced inside Microsoft, which is good since that&rsquo;s the company I&rsquo;ve paid the least amount of attention to over the last 10 years, and he answers the question of how Microsoft managed to miss the boat so badly in both search and mobile and how it&rsquo;s attempting to turn things around in those sectors.</p> <p>If you&rsquo;re at all interested in the business side of technology, <em>Digital Wars</em> is a given.</p> <h3><a href="http://www.amazon.com/Perfect-Storm-True-Story-Against-ebook/dp/B002EF2ALQ/ref=sr_1_1_bnp_1_kin?sr=8-1&amp;ie=UTF8&amp;keywords=junger%2Bperfect%2Bstorm&amp;tag=thecoredump-20&amp;qid=1405822353">The Perfect Storm, by Sebastian Junger</a> ★★★★☆</h3> <p>The tragic story of the Andrea Gail which perished with all hands in the Atlantic &ldquo;perfect storm&rdquo; of 1991. It&rsquo;s a fascinating book that discusses the fishing culture of Massachusetts, the mechanics of fishing boats, the physics of waves, the meteorology of storms, the resources of the coast guard, and the lives of the men aboard the Andrea Gail as it went to its tragic end.</p> <p><em>The Perfect Storm</em> is a tragedy, a page turner, and an education. You should read it.</p> <h2>Fiction</h2> <h3><a href="http://www.amazon.com/Tower-Lord-Book-Ravens-Shadow-ebook/dp/B00G3L6ML6/ref=sr_1_1_bnp_1_kin?sr=8-1&amp;ie=UTF8&amp;keywords=tower%2Blord&amp;tag=thecoredump-20&amp;qid=1405822833">Tower Lord, by Anthony Ryan</a> ★★★★☆</h3> <p>Now, this is how you do page-turner fantasy. The follow-up to the excellent <em><a href="http://www.amazon.com/Blood-Song-Ravens-Shadow-Novel-ebook/dp/B00ABKGG0C/ref=sr_1_1_ha?ie=UTF8&amp;sr=1-1&amp;s=digital-text&amp;keywords=blood%2Bsong&amp;tag=thecoredump-20&amp;qid=1405822918">Blood Song</a></em>, <em>Tower Lord</em> continues the story of our hero Vaelin, but expands to the greater struggle in which he&rsquo;s involved and the secondary characters (some already known and some new) who also play big parts in the larger war to come.</p> <p>Now, <em>Tower Lord</em> is not as good as <em>Blood Song</em>, let that be said up front. But then, <em>Blood Song</em> was one-in-a-million. <em>Tower Lord</em> moves the story forward and feels a lot like a <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Gemmell">David Gemmell</a> novel (which is high praise indeed) in its relentless pace and addictiveness. There are way worse authors to emulate, and <em>Tower Lord</em> keeps you turning the pages to the end.</p> <p>As a sidenote, it&rsquo;s great to read a <em>story</em> instead of &ldquo;I wrote down my awesome D&amp;D campaign&rdquo; which too much modern fantasy consists of. So if you liked <em>Blood Song</em>, get thee to <em>Tower Lord</em>, and if you haven&rsquo;t experienced <em><a href="http://www.amazon.com/Blood-Song-Ravens-Shadow-Novel-ebook/dp/B00ABKGG0C/ref=sr_1_1_ha?ie=UTF8&amp;sr=1-1&amp;s=digital-text&amp;keywords=blood%2Bsong&amp;tag=thecoredump-20&amp;qid=1405822918">Blood Song</a></em> yet and you like fantasy, run don&rsquo;t walk to click that mouse.</p> <h3><a href="http://www.amazon.com/Blood-Live-Last-Werewolf-Trilogy-ebook/dp/B00EGMQIFY/ref=sr_1_1_bnp_1_kin?sr=8-1&amp;ie=UTF8&amp;keywords=by%2Bblood%2Bwe%2Blive&amp;tag=thecoredump-20&amp;qid=1402075372">By Blood We Live, by Glen Duncan</a> ★★★☆☆</h3> <p>The third book in Duncan&rsquo;s gritty reboot of the Werewolf mythos is as full of gore, sex and literary allusions as the previous novels in the series, <em><a href="http://www.amazon.com/Last-Werewolf-Trilogy-ebook/dp/B004G60FUY/ref=sr_1_1?sr=8-1&amp;ie=UTF8&amp;keywords=duncan%2Blast%2Bwerewolf&amp;tag=thecoredump-20&amp;qid=1402075558">The Last Werewolf</a></em> and <em><a href="http://www.amazon.com/Talulla-Rising-Glen-Duncan-ebook/dp/B006S3HAJW/ref=pd_sim_kstore_1?refRID=0WXJH81GWZAVB9YKFVSM&amp;tag=thecoredump-20&amp;ie=UTF8">Talulla Rising</a></em>, but while as enthralling and likely to keep you up past your bedtime as the other ones, <em>By Blood We Live</em> stretches the mythology past its breaking point. </p> <p>There&rsquo;s (clears throat) <em>prophecy</em> and <em>visions</em> and Oldest Vampire Ever Who is Tired, and it does indeed feel, well, tired.</p> <p>Nevertheless, if you liked the previous novels, you&rsquo;ll enjoy this. Just not as much as the previous awesome novels.</p> <h3><a href="http://www.amazon.com/I-Am-Pilgrim-Terry-Hayes-ebook/dp/B00D3NSDVO/ref=sr_1_1_bnp_1_kin?sr=8-1&amp;ie=UTF8&amp;keywords=i%2Bam%2Bpilgrim&amp;tag=thecoredump-20&amp;qid=1405613413">I am Pilgrim, by Terry Hayes</a> ★★★☆☆</h3> <p><em>I am Pilgrim</em> should be with you the next time you&rsquo;re on an airplane or on the beach. It&rsquo;s a huge, sprawling techno-spy novel and murder mystery rolled into one.</p> <p>The novel reads like a gritty reboot of classic Robert Ludlum with some Tom Clancy thrown in for good measure.</p> <p>It&rsquo;s far from perfect, though: The plot relies enough on coincidences and chance encounters to make you roll your eyes and most characters stay two-dimensional. And if you&rsquo;re a nerd like me the novel also hurts from some utterly ignorant techno-movements where hard drives start flashing red lights because the CPU is stressed too hard. <em>Ay, ay, ay</em>. Those moments make you doubt all the other Tom Clancy-style Cool Tech Things that happen in the novel.</p> <p>But be that as it may, it&rsquo;s a damn fun ride that will have you turning the pages way too late into the night.</p> <p>Bonus fact: Hayes co-wrote the script for <em>The Road Warrior</em>.</p> <h3><a href="http://www.amazon.com/Lexicon-Novel-Max-Barry-ebook/dp/B00AEBETMK/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?qid=&amp;sr=&amp;tag=thecoredump-20&amp;_encoding=UTF8">Lexicon, by Max Barry</a> ★★★★☆</h3> <p>Taut and fast-paced with an interesting conceit, but plagued a bit by a confusing plot.</p> <p>The idea is that our brains are hard-wired to respond to certain words in a way that bypasses our conscious thought and will—anybody who masters the difficult art of using the right words can make anybody do anything. </p> <p>So naturally there&rsquo;s a secret organization that rules the world and finds children it trains to become masters of this art.</p> <p>And then, not surprisingly, things go horribly wrong&hellip;</p> The rumored iWatch won’t be what you think Nic Lindh http://thecoredump.org/ 2014-07-12T00:00:00-07:00 http://thecoredump.org/2014/07/the-rumored-iwatch-wont-be-what-you-think/ <p><img src="/images/pebble-knife.jpg" /></p> <p><i>A Pebble on the author’s slabby big man wrist.</i></p> <p>The rumor mill has been working itself into a fever pitch about the new product category Tim Cook has stated Apple will enter this year. Most of the speculation has focused on the so-called iWatch. But speculation is all it is.</p> <p>The only thing I&rsquo;m sure about when it comes to this new product category is that it won&rsquo;t be a watch. Why? Because a smart watch is a niche device and Apple isn&rsquo;t interested in anything that won&rsquo;t ship millions of units per quarter. A smart watch will not do that. At least not a smart watch as we know them today.</p> <p>I say this as a happy <a href="https://getpebble.com/">Pebble</a> owner. I love my Pebble. For me it&rsquo;s great: Getting notifications on my wrist is <em>fantastic</em> and having a stopwatch and timer as well as the ability to control music and podcast playback from my wrist is very nice. But then, I&rsquo;m a huge nerd, the kind of person who thinks it&rsquo;s worth it to charge yet another device twice a week in order to get notifications on your wrist.</p> <p>The smart watch market just heated up when Google recently announced <a href="http://www.android.com/wear/">Android Wear</a>. Ars Technica has a predictably <a href="http://arstechnica.com/gadgets/2014/06/reviewing-android-wears-first-watches-sometimes-promising-often-frustrating/">thorough look</a>. It is essentially an upgrade to the Pebble with nicer screen and UI and deeper integration with Android.</p> <p>From reading the Ars article and listening to various nerd podcasts, Android Wear looks like it was rushed to market, presumably as a first strike against the iWatch of which, again, people outside Apple know nothing.</p> <p>(Which, if I&rsquo;m correct, is a sad commentary on the intellectual rigor of a company as large as Google. All those meeting, all those planning sessions, all that work against a phantom idea? That&rsquo;s just sad. I hope I&rsquo;m wrong about all of this. But then, these are the people who thought Google Glass was a game changer.)</p> <p>My money is on the first generation of Android Wear devices to sell poorly to say the least. First off, you have to own a recent Android phone to tether the devices to, which cuts the market significantly, and second, from what I&rsquo;ve seen of Android devices in the wild here in Phoenix, there are two distinct sets of Android users: </p> <ol> <li>An extremely vocal minority of hard-core nerds who love changing their ROMs and skins and keyboards; and</li> <li>The vast majority who picked up whatever phone the salesperson at the carrier store was pushing that day. <em>Hey, it does texts and Facebook: It&rsquo;s fine.</em></li> </ol> <p>The first group will no doubt pick up an Android Wear device and install strange hacks on their wrists. The second will have no idea what you&rsquo;re yammering on about.</p> <p>That second group is who Apple wants to reach. An iteration on the Pebble or Android Wear with the customary Apple polish won&rsquo;t do that.</p> <p>So what is coming? I have absolutely no idea, but I know that it will be successful if it meets one condition: When Apple announces it you look at it—just like with the iPhone—and go, <em>Wow, that is so obvious</em>.</p> After the empire fades Nic Lindh http://thecoredump.org/ 2014-06-29T00:00:00-07:00 http://thecoredump.org/2014/06/after-the-empire-fades/ <p>The fourth season of <a href="http://www.amazon.com/George-Martins-Thrones-5-Book-Boxed-ebook/dp/B00957T6X6/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&amp;sr=1-3&amp;s=digital-text&amp;keywords=rr%2Bmartin&amp;tag=thecoredump-20&amp;qid=1404085967">George R. R. Martin&rsquo;s <em>Game of Thrones</em></a> has ended and to console myself I just finished a re-read of <a href="http://www.amazon.com/First-Law-Trilogy-Boxed-Set-ebook/dp/B00GU3ATPM/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&amp;sr=1-1&amp;s=digital-text&amp;keywords=first%2Blaw%2Btrilogy%2Bkindle&amp;tag=thecoredump-20&amp;qid=1404086026">Joe Abercrombie&rsquo;s <em>First Law Trilogy</em></a>. </p> <p>The two series are similar in that they both have fleshed-out people attempting to survive in horrible realities and are both loaded with brutal, sociopathic violence. But they differ in the kinds of realities the characters face, and I think those differences are telling in that they call out how America and England are dealing with a new era. Martin is American and Abercrombie is English and the worlds they build reflect the Zeitgeist in those different countries and cultures.</p> <p>Martin&rsquo;s Westeros is of course a horrible, horrible place, almost post-apocalyptic, where wannabe-king warlords rule according to their whims, spreading chaos and horror, and might makes right. It is also what happens after the fantasy ends: Our heroes have defeated the mad king and one of them is the new, just, king and has married his beautiful queen while his stalwart friend has has returned to his family holdings to raise his family in peace. But our hero has been too long at war and soothes his PTSD with drink, women and hunts—anything to give him a thrill—while his queen has, ahem, her own issues. And things fall apart, to out it mildly.</p> <p>This feels very post-Cold War American: Hey, we won! We are the only standing super power! And now we have to deal with all the internal problems that were overshadowed by the larger struggle against the Russians. Those problems can&rsquo;t be swept under the rug anymore. </p> <p>Issues are coming to the surface. How do we deal with them? Are they going to tear the country apart? Some people want to secede from the union, some demand their religion be the only religion allowed, some want to believe the Russian threat is still out there, and some want the armed forces to be kept strong because we have needed the strong armed forces before and not having them would betray what the country is all about.</p> <p>Abercrombie&rsquo;s Union, on the other hand, is European. It is also a horrible place to live, a crumbling remnant, but not a Road Warrior nightmare. Instead it&rsquo;s ossified, a place that worships its old glories and the Way Things Are Done. A place where a self-made man is looked upon with suspicion and denigration. <em>How dare he?</em> A place where blood is what counts and no matter how unsuitable a man may be he is still a member of the aristocracy and thus better than you, <em>sir</em>.</p> <p>Which of course is very British and a remnant of the way things used to be in the heyday of the British Empire, where the troops pillaging the colonies would be lead exclusively by the classes that could afford to buy commissions for their sons, no matter how incompetent they might be.</p> <p>The Union is corrupt, an empire in the last, unfit years of its life, and Westeros is tearing itself apart.</p> <p>But of course it&rsquo;s entirely possible I&rsquo;m overthinking this&hellip;</p> Happy midsummer! Nic Lindh http://thecoredump.org/ 2014-06-20T00:00:00-07:00 http://thecoredump.org/2014/06/happy-midsummer/ <p><img src="/images/midsummer/swedish-landscape.jpg" /></p> <p><i>Sweden sure is pretty on a sunny summer day.</i></p> <p>Today is <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Midsummer">Midsummer’s Eve</a>, the number one day for Swedes living abroad to get mopey and homesick and the number one day for Swedes in the motherland to consume traditional food and drink, dance around the maypole, and stay up late, late in the never-ending light.</p> <p></div></div></div> <img src="/images/midsummer/swedish-folk-dresses.jpg" alt="Swedish traditional dress" class="img-responsive" /> <div class="container"><div class="row"><div class="col-md-12 contentsmall"> <div class="imgcaption">Rocking Swedish traditional dress is socially acceptable on midsummer.</div></p> <p>Midsummer of course has its roots in the pagan solstice celebration, with the longest day of the year a time to beseech the gods for a good harvest, plant the maypole—a huge phallos—into the fertile ground, and have drunken orgies. </p> <p></div></div></div> <img src="/images/midsummer/pickled-herring.jpg" alt="Pickled herring" class="img-responsive" /> <div class="container"><div class="row"><div class="col-md-12 contentsmall"> <div class="imgcaption">Pickled herring—delicious with new potatoes and <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Akvavit">Akvavit</a>.</div></p> <p>When Sweden was converted to Christianity the monks, as it turned out, were not super fans of the sacrifice to the pagan gods and drunken orgy bits of the celebration, and tried to have it banned. That didn&rsquo;t go so well, as people who live in cold, dark, and rain for most of the year really like to let loose when they get a chance.</p> <p>So the cross bar was added to the maypole to turn it into a cross and the solstice feast, it was decided, was to celebrate the birthday of John the Baptist. And could you please take it down a few notches with the drunken orgy? No?</p> <p></div></div></div> <div class="embed-responsive embed-responsive-16by9"> <iframe class="embed-responsive-item" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/u8ZLpGOOA1Q" allowfullscreen></iframe> </div> <div class="container"><div class="row"><div class="col-md-12 contentsmall"> <div class="imgcaption">Watch a short midsummer primer.</div></p> <p><em>Photos by Nic Lindh.</em></p> Damnatio memoriae Nic Lindh http://thecoredump.org/ 2014-06-01T00:00:00-07:00 http://thecoredump.org/2014/06/damnatio-memoriae/ <p>Once again a young man has gone off his rocker and murdered a bunch of strangers in cold blood.</p> <p>It&rsquo;s disgusting and disheartening and worst of all it&rsquo;s endemic. For decades now young men have, for whatever reason, decided that killing as many other people as possible and then capping it off by taking their own lives is the best way for them to deal with whatever thing is happening to or inside them—going out in a blaze of &ldquo;glory&rdquo;.</p> <p>It&rsquo;s sickening and hideous and worst of all it seems we as a society are getting used to it. Which is completely unacceptable. Time after time a young man takes to the streets to slay whatever demons are in his head and we are shocked and horrified. And then we talk and wring our hands. And then another one follows. And another. And we talk. And it&rsquo;s numbing in its horror.</p> <p>It&rsquo;s clear that the one issue that connects all these sprees is young men. Young men and their egos.</p> <p>I do think it all boils down to ego—you&rsquo;re being kept down by your teachers and parents and especially the women who won&rsquo;t let you make sexy time with them and you <em>need</em> to feel powerful, <em>must</em> feel powerful and grabbing a weapon and wasting people is such a shortcut to power—you will literally have the power of life or death. You, the guy who can&rsquo;t get a girl to let you touch her boobs, <em>you</em> now have the ultimate power.</p> <p>And you will be remembered throughout history. No more sobbing and jerking off in your room after your parents go to bed: You&rsquo;re a star! You will be remembered through the ages. All the girls who wanted nothing to do with you will see your picture on the news and in the paper. You are immortal now.</p> <p>And that&rsquo;s what we need to put an end to—the immortality. It serves no purpose for us to know the name and picture of the latest asshole to go on a spree. The Romans had a practice they called <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Damnatio_memoriae">Damnatio Memoriae</a> where a traitor&rsquo;s name would be stricken from the record and his name would then effectively be lost from history. That&rsquo;s what I propose for these kinds of men: Let&rsquo;s forget them. Not their crimes and especially not their victims, but <em>them</em>. You go on a killing spree and your name becomes &ldquo;Asshole 25&rdquo; or whichever number we&rsquo;re up to. Since we do need a unique way to refer to them, let it just be a number. After &ldquo;Asshole 25&rdquo; comes &ldquo;Asshole 26&rdquo;, etc. We will not use your real name, and we will never show your picture. You will get no immortality—only your family will mourn you and the rest of us will never have any idea who you were.</p> <p>This is as it should be. If your only legacy is that you murdered a bunch of innocents, nobody should ever know your name. Only that you were an asshole.</p>