Orange Flower

March 27, 2007


I started reading the book Cyberselfish by Paulina Borksook last night. Tom Slee describes this book as “…a few years old now (but a good read nonetheless)”. The book was published in 2000. The premise of the book is that techno geeks are mostly libertarian which Borksook finds disturbing.

…for beneath them I sensed nastiness, narcissism, and lack of human warmth, qualities that surely don’t need to be hard-wired into the fields of computing and communications.

Borksook begins the section named “Varieties of Religious Experience” with this.

Much as there are two forms of the plague – bubonic (less contagious and not necessarily lethal) and pneumonic (violently infectious and almost always fatal), technolibertarianism manifests in two forms: political and phillosophical.

So that is the general tone of the book; biting humor used to emphasize a very negative generalization of a group of people. The style can be best described as Anne Coulter for lefties.

Is there any truth to her claims? I don’t think so. Borsook rails against a caricature of libertarianism. She says that “on any test that could be designed to test ‘how libertarian are you?'” that techno geeks “would score high high high”. I doubt it. I don’t think many techno geeks support the economic freedoms at the heart of libertarianism. Take The Worlds Smallest Political Test to find out where you stand.

The Xbox 360 is a top notch digital entertainment device with one major flaw… its sounds like a hair dryer. I think it gives off more heat than a hair dryer too which accounts for the fan noise. OK, I’m exagerating a tad, but the noise is too intrusive to play low background music.

The Xbox 360 can connect to a PC running Windows Media Connect (a free download) to stream music or photos but it will not allow you to stream video. Windows Media Connect does stream video so this is an imposed Xbox 360 limitation rather than a technical one. I subscribe to Napster which allows me to download music at a flat monthly rate. This DRMed music can be streamed to an Xbox 360 or any networked audio device that supports the UPnP A/V standard.

To stream video you must use the Xbox 360 as a Windows Media Center Extender that connects to a PC running Windows Media Center (WMC). The WMC interface is quite decent. While a Windows Media Center PC can play any supported video type on the PC, the Extender can only play .wmv files. Another BIG pain in the butt. There are 3rd party solutions that transcode video. I use a free software product named Transcode 360 which transcodes on the fly and works with QuickTime, H.264, Flash, DivX, and nearly any other video format you can throw at it. The down side is that you have to go through a few menus to play a non-wmv format and its a little more complicated to delete.

The Xbox 360 has a wired network connection but you have to buy an external WiFi adapter if you have to go wireless. The Xbox 360 also supports any standard Windows Media Center remote control but the accessory Xbox 360 remote control also has the colored A, B, X, Y controller buttons which can be used to control the Xbox interface as well. The wireless game controller works as well but it powers down after a while to save energy… inconvenient if you are trying to pause the audio/video for say a telephone call.

So what do I watch? Vodcasts (video podcasts). Ask a Ninja, Command N, ScobleShow, RocketBoom, TEDTalks, Wallstrip, GeekBrief.TV, Strong Bad E-mails, and others.