Printers

I recently had to factory reset my WiFi printer, an HL2270dw.

Now, this printer does not have a screen or keyboard; so you cannot reconnect to WiFi without involving a computer.

I guess this is not altogether unreasonable as a printer isn’t much use without a computer anyway.

So, I plugged it into the (Ethernet) switch… no link

I’ve never tried to use the Ethernet on this printer before so I suppose it could’ve been broken for years without my knowing of it.

I turn to Google. A USB cable can be used temporarily to set up WiFi using a manufacturer provided wizard.

Easy?

Ha.

Error1.jpeg

Ok then….. of course this error is not documented anywhere.

I run the setup tool a second time.

“To continue installing your printer, you  must reboot now.”

Well, this is going well…

shutdown /r /t 00

Connect USB

At this point, I did obviously, plug in the USB cable

No dice.

Wait.

Wait.

Wait.

Nothing.

Fire up procexp (Yes, I am a nerd…) no sign of any activity. The dirty rotten swine is deaded already.

Repeat for what feels like 200 times.

Finally, it works.

Now, having factory resetted (resat?) it, I have to go into the 90s web menu and set everything up again.

I chanced upon this gem.

Now remember, everything is at factory default.

WhatsApp Image 2017-08-05 at 7.48.25 PM

This is not a joke. Out of the box, the Ethernet is switched off, and the WiFi on.

WHY ON EARTH WOULD ANYONE EVER DO THAT?

It’s difficult bordering on impossible to automatically connect to WiFi! Hence the dual security nightmares SoHo gateway manufacturers have visited upon us.

But, except in certain rare cases mainly confined to huge corporations, Ethernet is plug-and-play.

Why on earth isn’t Auto Switching (Enable Both Interfaces) the default?

FUB

bomb

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Computer Dream

I have a theory. And it is just a theory, I’m spitballing not researching so let’s not get carried away here. But…

I hypothesize for the purpose of discussion that the real purpose of all these fake news stories is not exactly to deceive us, but rather to place us unto an epistemic fugue state in which truth and falsity commingle to such an extent that the question of ‘what is true’ and ‘what is false’ is lost.

In order to do this, these sites circumvent the gatekeepers who normally keep garbage out of circulation (the much and somewhat wrongly derided ‘mainstream media’) by exploiting the network effect.

After all, if one is to see a wild, wild lie mixed in with the truth, is it not possible that the presence of this lie would impeach the credibility of the truths rather than the truths’ presence falsely bolstering the credibility of the lie?

If I give you a list of five claims, one a clear lie and the others undetermined, wouldn’t you then presume that the accuracy of the 4 remaining claims is in doubt. If I lie once, might I not lie again?

And, If we do not know what is true and what is untrue might we then be more susceptible to non-rational forms of persuasion?

So, an obvious question is ‘who is behind these fake news sites?’ In some cases it is clear that it is Trump associates. Brietbart’s head honcho Stephen Bannon is a key Trump adviser. In some cases it appears to be bored teenagers, but in many cases (including many of the latter cases which seem at least slightly suspect to me) it is unclear, particularly with the small ones.

The most probable answer is that it is Trump. Either the Trump campaign or arms-length bodies or advocacy groups. Many of the site’s DNS registration information is hidden, the sites are registered on behalf of the real owners by proxy companies. (This is a perfectly legitimate and commonplace business.)

But… let’s go really far down the conspiracy theory rabbit hole for just a moment here.

Could it be Russia?

Why Russia? Well, because simply put something very similar is happening in Russia.

In the Soviet Union, everything was fake. Everyone knew it was fake but everyone pretended that it was not. To do otherwise was crimethink. In modern Russia, everything is still fake. Or more accurately, everything is postmodernist. Because now, everyone accepts that it is fake and just moves on.

The chief of fakery is Vladislav Surkov. He is Mr Putin’s gray eminence but also writes lyrics for rock bands and avant garde poetry. I’m not joking. He also is generally thought to have written a novel about himself and what he is doing under a pseudonym which is a masculinized version of his wife’s maiden name.

Surkov sponsors everyone and everything, even the political opposition at times. yet, everyone knows. According to the dissident writer Eduard Limonov, the strategy is based on keeping the opposition constantly confused. The political system relies on everyone being unsure of what is actually happening and what is not. Is even the opposition real? Who knows!

Surkov speaks of ‘nonlinear warfare.’ Once there were many groups in two sides (Axis vs Allies, NATO vs. the Warsaw Pact.) Now, everyone is against everyone.

One of the jobs of News is to expose fakes. But News can only expose things which are hidden. How is that supposed to work? Does Fact Checking work when hardly any effort is made to hide that it isn’t really so? How does one get any purchase against nothingness?

Maybe this is not true. Maybe ideas of Russian influence are a form if cranky nonsense cum wishful thinking.

(How would we know?)

But even if it is not, even if the usefulness to those of power and wealth of this postmodernist fog that has settled on our lives is a coincidence, it is still a huge problem.

The Traditional Critique is that Newspapers are dying because advertising has moved online. This is partially true. But, I think that it misses the fundamental point that the truth binary no longer is a major feature of a huge number of people’s daily lives. Since that is what newspapers sell, why buy them?

We feared, once, that we would create a computer world, upload ourselves into the dream and forget who we were. That, I think was optimistic, not dystopian.

The real dystopia is that we don’t have to do any such thing in order to find ourselves in a reality of illusion. We don’t have to upload ourselves to the computers to become lost in them.

One of the oldest traditions is the sacred knowledge. That there is some esoteric ‘truth’ that only the ‘chosen’ few can understand and so slip the surly bonds of earth and touch the face of god.

Even seemingly completely secular systems can have this silly feature. Marxists called it ‘dialectical materialism’ and Abraham Mazlow called it ‘self-actualization.’

I believe that exactly idea is what is found in optimistic science fiction such as The Matrix and World on a Wire. And that is why I call it ‘optimistic,’ because it asserts the existence of a true world into which the properly initiated can awaken. And so, I think impliedly it stimulates our secret desire to believe that not only is there is something beyond our own experience but that all of the things which we hate about our world are just nightmares, from which we can awaken without actually doing anything.

This is not so. Neo can’t wake up.

The imaginary seems real because it is real.

If this sounds totally hopeless and depressing, however, remember that a dream is like a train which goes on its course and which cannot be turned to one side or another. You cannot change a dream, not even in theory. But you can, theoretically, change the world.

We just have to discover how.

PS: there were traces, and just traces, of the miasma around Mr Obama, particularly during the first campaign. But isn’t it weird that the first truly hyperreal postmodernist candidate is a Republican?

Buzzword decoder

Here is your bubble buzzword decoder, 2016 edition:

“The Cloud” → “Some Servers”

“As-a-service” →”Outsourced”

“Gig economy” → “Piecework”

“Responsive” →”A mobile website automatically, and badly, reformatted to fit on non-mobile devices.”

“Disrupt” → “Destroy”

“Creative destruction” → “Pillaging”

“At scale” → “Monopoly pricing”

Cars

Have you noticed how Apple and Google are now making cars?

Apple car will not have seats or climate control but will be very pretty and many of its owners will have weirdly personal, defensive attitudes about the car’s shortcomings. It will be hugely influential and financially successful—despite relatively low market share—because of its built-in vending machine that dispenses six different types of intoxicating liquors. Other car developers will race to add vending machines and copy its styling but with mixed results. MoMA will acquire several models of this car for its permanent collection.

Google car will spy on you constantly while issuing vague reassurances that this is so they can make a better car. You can turn the spying off, however this results in irrelevant types of cars appearing in your driveway. Google does not actually make the car, rather the car is made by a South Korean company which changes the design in arbitrary ways that everyone hates and adds extra switches for each of the features. Google car’s vending machine mostly dispenses free liquors meaning the manufacturer makes very little money on them and the quality leaves much to be desired. The beverages also spy on you. Though launched with great fanfare, Google car will be abruptly discontinued with little warning. Owners will be offered a suitcase that contains lint from the upholstery before it is automatically vaporized from everyone’s driveway.

Microsoft car will get off to a very rocky start several early models being prone to exploding but fifteen years later Microsoft cars work very well despite being a bit ugly and the most popular model achieved over 97% market share. However, the company followed this blockbuster up with a completely different style of car with uncomfortable, neon-colored seats and a vending machine that only sells prune juice. After the failure of this model the company will bolt some of its parts onto the old model then start sneaking into everyone’s driveways and replacing their old cars with the new one against their will. This car does, very occasionally, needs to have the engine re-installed for no obvious reason.

Linux car started out as a project in someone’s garage and has somehow become something that Fortune-500 companies rely on. This car is available in 3, 4 and 5 wheel models. In addition to a burgeoning corporate market, dozens of warring factions battle each other to produce consumer versions but only sell kits that require the user to remove the body, engine and other components from their existing car and bolt new parts onto the chassis. These cars will sometimes refuse to drive on certain roads due to licensing politics. Unfortunately, some of these roads are quite popular. After a while, the owners of these roads will start to produce add-ons that enable some Linux cars to drive on them but they have to be installed separately and occasionally make the car explode. The car has a legion of PR people who keep saying “This is the year of Linux car on the driveway!” But it never comes true.

BSD car is extremely similar to Linux car except for certain minor things which are completely incompatible and cause accessories designed for Linux car to break. BSD car comes in three models that are mutually incompatible. Some of the varieties support a feature called Ztrailer in which arbitrarily large arrays of trailers can be combined to create what appears to be a single gargantuan, fault-tolerant trailer which can instantaneously be returned to any previous state (although, if you only want to get one item from a previous state it could take hours.) Linux cars scoffed at Ztrailer and said it was unnecessary but eventually capitulated and copied most of its features. BSD car has much larger market share than commonly imagined.

OS/2 Car used to be very popular according to its manufacturer, which currently only manufactures trains, though there is little evidence of this. OS/2 Car was originally a joint project with Microsoft Car but the developers got divorced and things got messy. OS/2 Car no longer exists but it had a really weird way of starting up and there is still an option to configure some roads to work that way.

Blackberry Car has fallen on hard times after being the most popular model for many years. Blackberry Car has ten times the airbags of the next safest model however its vending machine is always out of stock and only accepts $50s. The steering wheel of this car is legendary and remains heavily touted by the company. Critics question whether this can truly be considered a self-driving car, in part because of the steering wheel. In desperation, Blackberry did a deal to release a version of Google car that was mostly self-driving, had a much better vending machine and had the Blackberry steering wheel bolted onto a sliding panel so it could be put out of the way when not in use. This ended up pleasing nobody.

iPhone Ads

The new iPhone 6s ads are horrible. Truly execrable. What happened?

Go back and look at the circa 10-years-ago iPod ad with the sillhouettes. It is un-believable. It may be the best ad ever, so cool it was lethal.

The ethos of the 6s ads (“the only thing that’s changed is everything”) is like a vicious, snotty, unfunny parody of an Apple ad. The first time I saw it I checked to make sure it wasn’t the time-slot for SNL.

The one with the guy signing up for the scam* e-mail via Siri is even worse. What on earth were they thinking? How was this approved? What does this say about the current culture within Apple that it was?

Both ads commit the cardinal sin in advertising: they talk down at you like Regina George from Mean Girls. They are smug, sarcastic, self-superior and directly mock the people who appear in the ads and so by extension the consumer.

If I had to describe the campaign in a nutshell it would be “Apple thinks you are a shmuck.” This may of course be true but that is not the point.

* So Apple has spam-filter quality from 1997? Hmm, is that really the best message for a technology company to send in advertising?

Net Neutrality

So there’s all this talk now about Title II and how the FCC is going to force Net Neutrality and we’re going to have the Intertubez flow with milk and honey and blah-dee-blah.

BULLSHIT

We don’t need net neutrality, we need competition. To get competition we need local-loop/last-mile un-bundling. If we had that, prices (which are spectacularly high compared to similar countries) would plummet and competitive pressures would render ‘paid prioritization’ dead in the water. There wouldn’t even be a need for N.N. in the first place because it’s the very lack of these pressures that puts the carriers in the position to extort such schemes.

Wheeler’s plan is secretly a good deal for the cable cabal. They have to eschew a revenue stream, yes, but their monopoly status isn’t going to be challenged,