More on vuvuzelas

June 19th, 2010

MSNBC is running a story about the “inventor” of the vuvuzela.  Two things are interesting here.  One, it’s total bullshit that it was invented 15 years ago.  Brought to South Africa and made in to a business there 15 years ago?  Sure, I can buy that.  Invented there?  No way.  Again, this has been a staple of Mexican soccer for at least 20 years or more.  The other thing to note is that if this guy is the father of (South African) vuvuzelas, then the story establishes that this whole fad is precisely 15 years old.  What.  the.  fuck.  We’re tip-toeing around about not offending the sensibilities of the locals about a 15 year old fad?  That’s ridiculous.  (Also, all of the original reporting about how the vuvuzela “hearkens back” to some ancient African tradition are made even more stupid).  I still think that you can’t ban them, because if it’s 15 years old, 500 years old, or 5 months old, it doesn’t matter if banning them would kill off 40% or more of your attendance at the games.  You just can’t do it.  It still doesn’t mean I like them.  BRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR!

Weighing in on vuvuzelas

June 14th, 2010

The World Cup is underway, and I’ve been watching a few of the matches.  (So far, I watched ABC’s offerings of England vs US and Germany vs Australia).  Martin Tyler, the veteran English soccer announcer that ABC has retained, has made a few biting comments during the broadcast about the blaring vuvuzelas.  Well, FIFA has weighed in and said that they won’t be doing anything to limit them or fans using them (other than to restrict them during national anthems), and I can understand that.  That doesn’t mean I like the vuvuzelas.  In fact, I quite hate them.  I understand that from a business point of view, you have to have plenty of local fans going to the matches to have a successful World Cup.  This is especially true in South Africa – let’s face it, it’s not exactly centrally located for the supporting fans for most of the participating nations.  So if banning or severely limiting vuvuzelas would put a serious dent in attendance by locals (or cause a major backlash among the local fans), then you simply can’t do it, no matter how annoying they are.

But let’s face it, they aren’t some long-lived African tradition.  They’re just a local fan fad (a relatively recent one) that also happens to be highly annoying to many people, including myself.  I lived in Houston.  The vuvuzelas are *not* some African tribal tradition carried forth among soccer fans.  They’re from Central America, primarily, and I heard them whenever Mexico played in Houston — not exactly a bastion of African tribal tradition.  Let’s dispense with the notion that being annoyed by the vuvuzela means being annoyed with the cultural heritage of South Africa.  That’s bullshit.  Even if it was truly a long-standing tradition, so what?  Others can’t be annoyed?  Of course they can.  That said, I wouldn’t be such a prick as to foist my personal sensibilities on to those of other fans.  (Though I must say that I’d be really, really irritated if I was a visiting fan & was made nearly deaf by the local tradition of people ceaselessly blaring in to horns).

The vuvuzelas are annoying.  They have as much to do with being a soccer fan as cheering at the wrong time has to do with being a good baseball fan (Cubs fans, I’m looking at you for going crazy in the 5th inning for getting the first out.  Nonsensical cheering is, in fact, worse than no cheering at all).  The bleat of the vuvuzelas is constant.  The action on the field has absolutely nothing to do with the intensity of it.  Goal?  WHAAAAA!  Pass?  WHAAAAA!  Player introductions?  WHAAAA!  It’s constant, and therefore it’s just noise.  It’s not even background noise, because it covers over the chants, songs, and cheers of the fans who are actually following the game.  I seriously question the ability of anybody to blare in to a horn for a good 20 to 30 seconds at a time and still pay attention to what’s going on on the field.  I can’t scream at a (US) football game like that.  Even the best of musicians, I give 1 minute, tops, before they are seriously winded, to the point that they can’t really focus.  Anyway, my point is, the vuvuzelas are distracting to the game to me.  If it’s part of “the experience” for the local fans, though, I get that FIFA can’t very well ban them.  But, mark my words, you can count on hearing them in World Cup 2014 in Brazil, too.  I wonder what the cultural bullshit reason we’ll hear from FIFA then…

Libertarianism Revealed

May 20th, 2010

Rachel Maddow interviewed Rand Paul yesterday on her show.  The video follows here:

In the interview, Rachel presses Paul to come out and say what he actually believes – that private enterprise should never be subject to government regulation, at least in the context of who they serve and for what reasons.  Rand Paul says many times that he personally finds racism and racist policies abhorrent.  However, he’s also saying that the government should have no role in prohibiting racist policies in public spaces (as the 1964 Civil Rights Act established) operated by private businesses.  I have no doubt that Rand Paul is sincere in his personal distaste for racism.  But, Rand Paul’s dedication to dismissing tangible social chaos as “an abstract argument” (his characterization of Rachel’s real-world examples such as lunch-counter discrimination in the 50s and 60s) should be troubling.  Instead, however, it’s been my experience that Libertarians revel in this cop-out – they frequently reduce most things to very abstract terms, and when you point out the tangible flaws, they get defensive & say it’s only an abstract argument.  Fine, but what about the actual consequences?  Who deals with those?

I’m not trying to put words in Rand Paul’s mouth, nor is it fair to ascribe the ideas of his father to him.  I’m more familiar with Ron Paul, who was my congressman in Texas for quite a while, than I am with Rand.  That said, his dismissal of Civil Rights concerns in private industry is as alarming as it is familiar to anyone who’s had a debate with a dedicated Libertarian.  These people seem far more common in the software industry and in academia than among my circle of friends from other backgrounds, and debating them can be quite enlightening.

The Libertarian argument goes like this:  Freedom is essential and absolute, regardless of social circumstance – any limitation of fundamental freedoms, including the freedom to be racist, is unacceptable.  (I quite agree with the notion that one should be free to hold racist views, but that’s quite different than saying it’s okay to discriminate with your publicly available business).  Rand Paul articulates this argument during the interview – he says that any interference with private industry leads to “unintended and undesirable consequences”, claiming that banning discrimination in privately owned public spaces leads to further erosion of property rights, including the inability for private individuals to ban firearms on their premises.  (This is absurd – the Civil Rights Act no more enables this than it enables shirtless, shoeless people to demand service inside restaurants).  Instead of government intervention, the invisible hand of the free market (ie, the preferences or boycotts of customers and shareholders) should be left to regulate private industry accordingly.  In other words, if people demand an elimination of racist policies in businesses, the businesses will respond.  Thus the Libertarians declare, thus it shall be.  Rand Paul has spoken!

Back in the real world (which Libertarians seem to annoyingly refuse to acknowledge), private businesses in the South did not give a shit if poor black people boycotted their policies.  Rather than working against racist policies, free-market Libertarianism enshrined and reinforced the prejudices of the economically powerful against the economically disadvantaged.  “Don’t want to eat at the segregated lunch counter?  Why, refuse, and someone will open a desegregated lunch counter!”  Except, you can’t get a loan from a bank to open your desegregated lunch counter because banks (under Rand Paul’s Libertarian ideals) don’t have to loan to black people (or people who would empower them).  “Well, then certainly another bank will open and take advantage of this potential market!”  No, the banks knew that the writing was on the wall — boycotts go both ways.  Unlike the black people that wanted to boycott businesses that discriminate, the (more than black people, anyway) economically powerful racists in the South actually had the power to pull out of private institutions (banks, businesses, investments) that might challenge the status quo (which, at that time, was racist).  There was no compelling profit motive to risk any substantial, consistent cash flow (from the white, status-quo, economically powerful) to invest in offering fair services to poor black people.

I’ve purposely ignored the other factor of threats of violence — Rand Paul dismisses these as “illegal”, and yes, in his fairy-tale world, the KKK would’ve been perfectly prosecuted and eliminated, and so he refuses to acknowledge that such things actually do affect how private persons and institutions make decisions.  Fine.  Even in the absence of any threat of violence, the Libertarian view that the free market solves all is pure and utter bullshit.

Now that Rand Paul has won the primary to run for Senate in Kentucky, I’m sure we’ll hear more of his views.  I’m sure we’ll also hear more of his dismissals of real problems — because Libertarians, frequently, cannot solve real problems.  They’re great at debating abstract problems and passionately stating how things should be.  The problem is that the world simply doesn’t work the way they want it to.

DSDT and kext information for my Hackintosh

May 5th, 2010

As previously mentioned, I’ve built a hackintosh using a Gigabyte GA-X58A-UD5 motherboard (with the F4 bios), an i7 950 processor, and an nvidia GTX 260 graphics card.  The information one might need to get Empire EFI/Chameleon RC4 booting this machine is present in that other post.  However, a few people have asked for my DSDT information, so here are the diffs to the the disassembled dsdt.  As previously mentioned, I simply followed the guidelines here and adapted them to my DSDT.  Note that there is processor-specific information here regarding power states (in this case, for my i7 950).  To use this, you just need your disassembled dsdt file (called dsdt.dsl), which you can get by first getting the compiled version (I used an Ubuntu Live CD) and disassembling it (using iasl — again, I used Ubuntu).  With your disassembled DSDT and this diff, simply do:

patch -p0 < dsdt.dsl.diff

And then recompile doing:

iasl -sa dsdt.dsl

which will create a “dsdt.aml” file suitable for various PC EFI projects (including Chameleon RC4).

Using this, I don’t need a null power kext or any modified power management kext.  Stock Apple power-management kexts just work.  What doesn’t work:  sleep.  Apparently other people have used some sleep enabler kext to get this to work, but I haven’t tried that, since I don’t need it.  What also doesn’t work without a driver:  sound.  Also, as a reminder, I’m using the 32-bit kernel.  And to summarize, (native) SATA (without IDE emulation), USB, firewire, and graphics all just work (using GraphicsEnabler=Y, PciRoot=1) w/ Chameleon RC4.  Without a kext fix, however, the hard disk icons are the orange external ones.  There are several methods to fixing this.  The machine will shut down, but not reboot.  So, I also use a snow-leopard compatible OpenHaltRestart.

So, the drivers (kexts) I use are:

VoodooHDA (for sound)

Fake SMC 2.5 (platform workarounds to make the sucker boot – I had to install this on my System partition rather than in Chameleon’s Extra folder.  It wouldn’t work otherwise, for me)

IOACHIBlockStorageInjector (Just to make the hard-drive icons gray rather than the orange external ones)

OpenHaltRestart for 10.6 — I can’t find the source for this right now, and I’m not hosting kexts on my blog.  The version for 10.5 will not work – I see several different options over at insanelymac.com, so have a look over there if you need this.  As I recall, shutdown would work, but reboot would not.

Before you ask, no, I will not provide the compiled version of my DSDT.  The diffs are more useful for you because you can use them to generate a new DSDT against newer BIOS revisions or against slightly different motherboards.  (People inexplicably mix & match DSDTs that aren’t for their motherboard — if/when this works, it’s purely accidental).  If you’re mucking around with a Hackintosh, you ought to be able to boot an Ubuntu Live CD, follow some simple commands, and apply a patch.

10.6.3 update on Hackintosh – Success

March 29th, 2010

I updated my Hackintosh to 10.6.3 without issue today — I figured if I’d spent all that time & effort into making my machine “just work”, what was the point if I didn’t try updates?  (I have Windows as a reliable backup on another disk).  Anyway, it worked flawlessly — so, one anecdote in the “plus” column.

Carl Edwards put on probation for 3 races

March 9th, 2010

Well, NASCAR has responded to Carl Edwards’ retaliatory wrecking of Brad Keselowski:  he’s been put on probation for the next 3 races.  Practically speaking, this has no effect.  Sure, Edwards will have to be “extra careful” (whatever that means) the next few races, but this really will just force him into biding his time until he gets the right opportunity.  That, honestly, is what he should’ve done in the first place.  I’m not really sure how what Edwards did was as effective as, say, talking it over with Brad after the race and letting him know “you’re next”, and then waiting it out until you get a competitive chance to settle a score when it matters, with both of you actually racing (rather than just wrecking).  (Time also gives you the ability to really consider what had happened earlier and decide if it was what you thought it was, which still remains unclear to me in this case).  We’ll see if NASCAR’s lack of action here sends a signal to open up the floodgates for similar actions by other drivers.

Cynics would say that NASCAR is endorsing this behavior for ratings.  I’m not so sure.  That may be a component of it, but I think they’ve kind of painted themselves in a corner with their pre-season statements that they’d be more “hands off”.  I think they concluded that suspending Edwards would be somehow inconsistent with their previous statements (which, frankly, they should not have made, for exactly this reason), but they had to put forth the appearance of protecting their fans’ safety.  Suspending Edwards for recklessly and intentionally risking the lives of several people would not have been inconsistent with a general encouragement of heated — and bumpy — competition, but it’s fair to say that many NASCAR fans would not agree with me about that one.  If nothing else, I think NASCAR does know their fans.

An Apple ad that will make you want to vomit

March 9th, 2010

The mac/pc ads were cute & funny.  This 8-minute long navel-gazing circlejerk just makes me want to punch these dudes in the junk.  If the iPad “exceeds your ability to understand”, that doesn’t make the device “magical” — it makes you an idiot.  Is this the Apple target market now?  Okay, maybe I’m the idiot for even asking that question.

Hackintosh – it’s alive!

March 8th, 2010

My Core i7 950-based Hackintosh is alive.  I’m using a Gigabyte GA-X58A-UD5 motherboard, a D-Link DWA-556 wireless card, and an nvidia GTX 260 video card.  To install, I used Empire EFI 1.85 r2 to bootstrap the retail 10.6 DVD, which I own.  I had to provide the “GraphicsEnabler=Y PciRoot=1” options to the Empire EFI loader to successfully boot the DVD.  Once installed, I used the Chameleon 2.0 rc4 boot loader from a USB stick (Chameleon cannot boot DVDs directly, or else I’d have tried that first) to boot my machine.  As to be expected, there were several caveats along the way.

First, I had to patch my dsdt (basically, BIOS-level device description table) to be compatible with Chameleon and other EFI-translation layers to provide EFI services to Mac OS.  I followed the general guidelines for similar Gigabyte boards here.  I used the intel “iasl” compiler with Ubuntu 9.10 on my machine to retrieve the BIOS’s regular dsdt, decompile it, edit, and recompile.  With my edited dsdt, I have native power-management functionality (rather than using a null driver that effectively makes your CPU run at maximum power-consumption levels all the time).  I also have many of my motherboard’s devices working, including Ethernet, USB, and obviously SATA.  Shutdown works with just my patched dsdt, but rebooting does not.  For that, i had to install a snow-leopard compatible version of the OpenHaltRestart driver.  For sound, I used the open-source voodoohda driver, which works just fine.  My graphics “just work” with the GraphicsEnabler=Y option, though switching resolutions in games does not seem to function as desired.  That said, I don’t really care, because I only ever use my display at native resolution.  My wireless card is identified as an Airport Extreme, as I was very careful to get one with the exact same Atheros chipset as those used in Macintosh hardware.  I use the fakesmc 2.5 driver to enable some platform devices necessary for booting MacOS, but other than the OpenHaltRestart and voodoohda drivers, everything else is vanilla, stock MacOS with no other modifications.  I updated to 10.6.2 without issue.

I did note, however, that Chameleon seems to default to attempting to boot the 64-bit version of the MacOS kernel on my hardware, which is nonsensical.  I had to force the 32-bit kernel in order to make my wireless card work, as Apple does not provide a 64-bit version of the driver.  I do not understand the fascination with the 64-bit kernel within the hackintosh community.  You’ll find lots of people bitching about a lack of a 64-bit driver for this, that, or the other.  As people who are actively modifying OS-level software — especially the MacOS kernel — the people writing the software, at least, should know that the 64-bit kernel buys you very little in terms of functionality on MacOS.  MacOS can address more than 4 GB of RAM using the 32-bit kernel via PAE.  Further, MacOS seamlessly supports 64-bit applications (as well as 32-bit applications) with large-RAM support on its 32-bit kernel.  No benchmark data shows any advantage on MacOS with a 64-bit kernel compared to a 32-bit kernel.  (Yes, there is overhead switching between modes of execution, so syscall-heavy code can suffer, which is why Xserves default to having the 64-bit kernel on. However, my desktop — even with heavy graphics-card use — does not show this to be an issue).  Attempting to default to the 32-bit kernel only reduces compatibility with drivers, for no actual normal-use benefit.

I’m using the F4 version of the BIOS for my motherboard, which is the newest.  I did have quite the scare with updating my BIOS, however.  I flashed it from a USB stick that I’d installed FreeDOS on.  The flash appeared to be successful, according to the program’s results, but upon reboot my motherboard appeared totally dead.  It wouldn’t give me anything on screen, it wouldn’t provide any beeps, and just seemed utterly dead.  The on-board boot status code LED indicated that it was constantly resetting itself, going back and forth between reset and initial memory tests.  I reseated my add-in cards, reseated my RAM, and still, the same result.  Finally I reset the BIOS variables (“CMOS” — an outdated misnomer if there ever was one), and thankfully it worked.  I was not looking forward to the prospect of returning a motherboard to newegg, but thankfully, it didn’t come to that.

Also, I’m glad I decided to go with the 950 rather than the 920 processor.  Apparently newegg got burned with a batch of counterfeit 920 processors last week, which is when mine would have arrived.

On the Windows front, I installed 64-bit Windows 7 (which I bought on sale at launch, knowing I’d need a copy anyway eventually) later, which went smoothly.  I disabled the annoying aspects of the hideously unusable menu-bar, basically making the menu function like Windows Vista (which I actually like).  It does have some minor improvements versus Windows Vista, particularly with simplified network configuration.  That said, it’s really just Windows Vista and an annoying menu bar.  Yes, the compatibility-mode feature (running Windows XP sp3 in a VM for a program) is a nice new addition, but for most users, this is not a big deal.  Most programs have been updated to run with Vista, and so Windows 7 benefits from the perception that “everything runs better”.  Actually, everything runs the same as it did with Windows Vista, now that developers (both 3rd-party and Microsoft) have finally updated most everything to stop doing nasty things like scribble on global, machine-wide registry variables.  Regarding multibooting, I used 2 separate drives for MacOS and for Windows.  Windows still cannot boot a gpt-partitioned drive, and I wanted to use native gpt partitioning for MacOS.  During Windows installation, I disconnected my MacOS drive (which I have since installed the Chameleon bootloader on to, obviating the need for a USB stick on each boot) to avoid Windows writing into the MBR of my MacOS drive.  After successfully installing, I reconnected my drive, and Chameleon can correctly select and boot Windows 7 just fine (though you do have to select the “System Reserved” partition to boot, which contains the Windows 7 boot loader).  I still need to install FreeBSD on this beast, but overall, I’m quite happy with the machine and with the software results.

“Dances with 3D-blue-cat-people-in-space” finally put in check

March 8th, 2010

Suck it, Avatar.

Carl Edwards is a douchebag

March 7th, 2010

Carl Edwards and like-minded fans will point to any number of incidents prior to his intentional wrecking of Brad Keselowski with 2 laps to go at Atlanta today as a means to justify it.  Here are the facts:

  1. Carl Edwards was 156 laps down.
  2. Carl Edwards attempted to hit Keselowski on the previous lap and missed.  He went at him again in the next lap, ultimately succeeding.
  3. Carl Edwards’ hands can be seen turning the wheel right into Keselowski.  (This just in:  There are no right turns at Atlanta Motor Speedway).
  4. Carl Edwards took the lives of Keselowski, other drivers, and fans into his hands for no reason.
  5. Carl Edwards could’ve also wrecked any other number of drivers trying to make a top-10 finish.  Unlike Edwards, there are guys in the Cup series going race-to-race, trying to keep a sponsor, and a wrecked car could’ve easily broken them.  If Edwards is to be taken at his word (“I didn’t mean to flip him”), then clearly he had no control over the impact of his actions.

I get that Keselowski wrecked Edwards at Talladega (while they were both going for the win, and in a situation that both drivers and all observers agreed was not intentional).  I get that Edwards was mad that Keselowski’s minor nudge on lap 40 wrecked Edwards’ car.  I get that there are some people who don’t like Brad Keselowski as a person.  But, none of that changes the above 5 facts.  Hey, I’m all for settling scores on the last lap if you’re both going for the win.  What Edwards did was careless, dangerous, and contemptuous of the fans who actually go to the races.