Si Vis Pacem Parabellum

| Wednesday, October 22 2014 |

Dear Apple,

Some of us do not give half a flying turkey shit about cover art. Please stop organizing everything in iTunes by it.

Love, Mr. Lion

posted by Mr. Lion @ 17:54 EST | comments (0)

| Friday, September 19 2014 |

Can you hear me now?

Well, it's iPhone 6 day, and as I track the major releases, one is now in my hot not-so-little hands. As with many Applethings, fiddling with the physical device is half the fun, and the 6 does not disappoint. It's extremely thin. Comically so. To the point that, having built a few embedded display and remote systems with LCDs and various radios and batteries in them, I have to wonder if space aliens were not involved in cramming this much stuff into something so thin.

Thinness aside, though, the other dimensions feel quite large. I picked up a 6, rather than the idiotically gargantuan 6 Plus, and the phone just about fits perfectly in my hand. However, I have the size 3XL meat hooks of a man who swings hammers and sets things on fire for a living, and the scar tissue to go along with it. That makes me think the phone in the hands of a more typical pipecleaners-out-of-torso type will have some difficulty manipulating it as effectively as the 4" iPhone 5.

In many ways, the initial regret I have is that the thing is so big. I considered the 4" phone to be just about perfect as a phone form factor. And while I can use the 4.7" well enough thanks to said large hands, it does "feel" about 10% too big in typical use. Sure, videos look amazing and I have space for an extra row of apps on every page, but I don't use the thing to watch videos. Aside from that, I don't have many other gripes about it. The sleep/wake button being on the side is actually a better spot for it, however my muscle memory still has me pawing away at the top of the phone for that function. The new location also leads to hitting the volume buttons while ďsqueezingĒ it to turn it off, but Iíll probably get used to a grip that avoids that eventually. Other stuff? Well, I don't much like the look of the milled antenna slots on the back that interrupt the aluminum case. Yes, I know they need to be there, but why not make them black? Hell, why not make the whole thing black? Screw this "space gray" nonsense. I want black. So, Apple: When it's iPhone 7 time, don't make the damn thing any bigger, and do make it black, and I promise I'll buy one of those Rose Gold Apple Watches to go with it.

Few gripes aside, everything else about the phone is just that much faster and better. The A8 processor is a beast and handles everything Iíve been able to throw at it. The new cell radio gives me an extra dot of signal at locations Iíd not had much previously. The battery lasts longer. The speaker sounds better. The camera is amazing. While I still wish it didnít stick out of the case, thereby ruining the flat-laying elegance of the previous phones, Iím willing to put up with it considering itíll lay flat with a case on it.

There are a few other things Iím not thrilled with, but they mainly have to do with iOS 8. On the whole it too is better in just about every way, but as has been Appleís way of late, a few new and annoying features come enabled by default. First among them, keyboard prediction, which is idiotic and distracting, however well it may work. For those of us who can type and actually take some small degree of pride in being able to communicate like a normal human without freaking netspeak, itís just needless clutter on an otherwise elegant keyboard. Fortunately, you can turn it off. Another largely useless feature, at least for me, is display zoom, which in effect turns your shiny new big 4.7Ē display back into a 4Ē display, so far as app icon and text sizes go, via magnification. I suppose thatís useful if youíre old and have coke bottle glasses, but I do not, so off it goes.

The one remaining ďfeatureĒ that has been the bane of my existence for quite some time now, and still can not be effing disabled, is coverflow in the music app. Apple: Some of us like to navigate through music while the phone is horizontal, as well access the audio control buttons. While coverflow is technically neat and visually impressive, it is also completely fucking useless and I do not want it. Give me the ability to turn it off.

One thing I must give credit to Apple for, though, is the implementation of TouchID. As Iím upgrading from a 5, this is my first experience with it. It works very, very well, and most importantly, lets me decide how I want to use it. Itís possible, for example, to use TouchID to purchase things from iTunes and use ApplePay, while still retaining a traditional passcode to unlock the phone. This is hugely awesome for me, as it is exactly the use case I want.

Upgrading the phone from a backup was also painless and straightforward, as youíd expect from an Apple product. The only hiccup I had was Verizonís activation process being somewhat silly, but that was resolved quickly. I actually have to applaud them on said resolution, as when I called in to customer service I was only on hold for about 15 minutes before I got a human who fixed the issue in a few seconds. On a launch day where you have thousands of people activating phones every second, thatís pretty impressive. So are the 4G speeds.

So, in a nutshell, itís an incrementally bigger and better iPhone, but itís still an iPhone, which means it works properly and doesnít waste my time with too much bullshit. Itís faster, better, and well worth what I paid for itó and as such par for the course for Apple. While there are a few things Iíd change, if this is the future of the phone, Iíll take it quite happily.

Plus, I get to send Android retards into pants-shitting-hysteria mode every time I pull it out of my pocket, and now thanks to U2, get to do the same with music snobs. Sweet!

posted by Mr. Lion @ 17:06 EST | comments (0)

| Tuesday, September 9 2014 |

The Fruit of Things.

So, the iPhone 6 has landed, which as fun as that is, means the end of the usual smug and annoying Samsung/Android ads on the tube. That alone is worth the $300.

I can't say I'm a fan of a larger form factor-- frankly, I wish they'd kept the 4" size in the lineup as I consider it just about perfect. But, I guess 4.7" won't necessarily kill me, and the new camera and speed bump alone make it a worthwhile acquisition. One thing that does annoy me is the protruding camera housing, as it ruins the ability for it to lay flat without a phone condom. Though, with the added image stabilization, it's sorta-worth having a wart on the back of the phone.

What is interesting is ApplePay-- we knew it was coming, though the level of integration is.. well, Apple-like. I wish they'd have made a merchant-side widget to make the whole process seamless, but I can see that gaining quite a lot of traction, and really only Apple can do it. At least properly. I wouldn't wish an Android Wallet on my worst enemy.

The Apple Watch was expected. The degree to which they seem to have hit it out of the park on a first generation release, though, is all anyone with a clue needs to know about the future heath of the company. Apple's party piece has always been thinking about all the little corner cases and gotchas that are both hard and annoying to solve-- and only Apple solves them. So while purely on an aesthetic view, the Apple Watch doesn't do a whole lot when put up a Breitling or Rolex, it does change the game so far as usable wearable technology. If you weren't keeping score, this is the first wearable computer that actual humans might want to use.

It also opens a few interesting doors in the realm of two factor authentication and many other interesting things. So, while I don't necessarily want to shell out $350 for one, I'll pretty much have to just to stay ahead of the curve on developing widgets for it.

The one more more thing surprise with U2 giving away their latest album had been hinted at, though many thought they'd be pre-loading it on iPhones. Instead they gave it away to everyone using iTunes. And as I've been waiting years for a new album from them, hey, that'll work.

All in all, I expect both of the new devices will sell in record numbers, and once again everyone who doesn't care about the hard stuff will scramble to knock off the new hotness. So the circle continues.

posted by Mr. Lion @ 15:25 EST | comments (0)

| Sunday, September 7 2014 |

A modest proposal for Sen. Sanders.

... who, surprise!, thinks we should tax the rich to pay for.. stuff.

First, Mr. Sanders, a lesson in math and economics for those who have little understanding of it. Namely you. For example, lets assume for a moment that we were to tax "the rich" at 100%, which is the socialist wet dream vile progs like you tend to circle-jerk over. That would amount to "revenues" of around $800-900 billion. Enough to run the government for something like three months. To say nothing of the deficit you claim to give a rat's ass about. It would also cause the vast majority of "the rich" to get the hell out of dodge, and by proxy, take a rather huge swath of the economy with them.

Based on that, I suggest that Mr. Sanders fuck off. Not just a normal amount of fucking off, though. No. I suggest that he pick his old, scrawny, vile prog ass up off his perch, and transport it to one of the many socialist utopias that are already far more advanced along the path to idiocy he seeks. I recommend Venezuela, Argentina or Cuba. I'm sure Mr. Sanders' blithering idiocy will be entirely welcome there among the ruling elite. The unwashed masses, probably not so much, but so goes the annals of utterly retarded utopian fucking idiocy.

posted by Mr. Lion @ 14:24 EST | comments (0)

Film Review: November Man.

This had all the makings of a good film. Brosnan as an even darker Bond, an interesting setting, a good supporting cast, and what at first glance appeared to be a decent story.

Of course, as the typical Hollywood writer has their head so far up their ass to be able to see their last meal, it joins a long list of otherwise interesting concepts, utterly ruined by cheap, circle-jerk sympathies.

It shouldn't surprise me, given that Finch and Gajdusek are about as top shelf as box wine, and Granger's There Are No Spies was hardly known for its deep characters. But still, this film is a travesty of a spy thriller. While Brosnan's usual swagger is fun to watch, the story is ruined with the "US are the bad guys" cliche that is one smelly fish.

The suckocity of this film does manage one trait: To concisely catalog everything that has been wrong with the self-reinforcing delusion that is the mentality of the average screenplay author.

posted by Mr. Lion @ 00:47 EST | comments (0)

| Wednesday, September 3 2014 |

Well duh.

Apparently people are starting to realize that the market delivers only so many idiots, even with a government thumb on the scale.

Electric car sales are not charging the marketplace. A new study by online automotive research company suggests the segment may have run out of gas.

Sales of electric drive vehicles are stuck at about 3.6% of all new car sales for 2014, Edmunds senior analyst Jessica Caldwell said.

That's below the 3.7% market share for 2013, and it's not likely to grow any before the end of the year.

And that's during an otherwise robust sales season. Total figures for August were higher than any time in the last decade.

Automakers sold about 1.6 million vehicles in the U.S. in August, an increase of about 3% from August 2013, according to initial industry estimates released Wednesday.

"The whole automobile market has grown," Caldwell said. "Weíre not seeing electric vehicles as part of that growth."

As I've been saying since a bunch of morons in California decided to ruin some perfectly good Lotus Elise chassis-- the market will only provide so many idiots. There are a bunch of them, millions in fact, spread throughout the usual costal cities with enough wealth to spend quite a lot on general idiocy. But you can't build nor sustain a car company on idiots alone, and with those of us with half a brain being rather fond of paying a third as much for a car that is many times faster and usable, the electric vehicle is on track to end up exactly where it did at the last turn of the century: Another warning from history.

posted by Mr. Lion @ 21:02 EST | comments (0)

| Tuesday, September 2 2014 |

Another victory for socialized medicine.

Lets say your child was diagnosed with a brain tumor. Good news! A recently developed treatment could cure him. Bad news: Bureaucrats say no. Worse news: Bureaucrats throw you in the clink when you dare disrepsect their authora-tay.

The mother of a young boy who survived brain cancer after receiving pioneering treatment in the US, says she sympathises with the parents of Aysha King.

Brett and Naghemeh King were arrested in Malaga, Spain after taking their son out of a British hospital against doctors' advice. They are currently being questioned by police, while their son is being treated in a Spanish hospital.

Ros Barnes, who took her son Alex to the US to receive proton beam therapy that was not available to him in the UK, told ITV's Daybreak that it had been difficult to go against British doctors' advice, but she had felt she was left with no alternative.

Alex Barnes has since made a full recovery and appeared alongside his mother on the programme.

Enjoy our wizard medicine while it lasts, kids.

posted by Mr. Lion @ 02:27 EST | comments (0)

| Thursday, August 28 2014 |

Film Review: Sunshine.

This is what happens when you make a film about sending idiots into space to save humanity.

I don't think I've ever seen a more interesting concept ruined so totally.

posted by Mr. Lion @ 20:00 EST | comments (0)

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