Friday, September 20, 2013

Bits and Pieces - September 20, 2013

The new TV series Agents of Shield starts next Tuesday on ABC. 'Nuff said.

Technically Speaking
ARS Technica did a thorough review of iOS 7. It is certainly complete and worth a read.

One of my favorite new features is the call-blocking. Finally.

Upgrading to iOS 7 right away isn't my plan. I want to do it, but reports indicate it will slow down my iPhone 4S (a little bit, anyway). My reasoning for not doing an immediate upgrade is pretty simple, though. I'd like all the initial bugs shaken out before I bother with the upgrade process. In fact, there is a security bug that allows someone to bypass your lock screen - but, well, you'll have to see how it's done. I give the guy kudos for finding the flaw, that's for sure.

If you're tired of the upgrade cycles for smart phones (and I'm getting there) this might interest you - one phone for the rest of your life. The idea appeals to me. If it was available and not simply a concept I might be tempted. (As long as I could play Candy Crush - darn that game!)


Hackers for Hire. These guys are not only good, they are some of the best hackers in the world - and they are for hire. That is a little scary, but should quiet all the privacy people. After all, someone can find your information on the internet, regardless of how well it is secured.

Orbital Sciences sent the Cygnus spacecraft to the ISS on Wednesday, launching it from Wallops Island in Virginia. All systems are "go."


It isn't a snake. It's a legless lizard. I didn't know there was a difference, honestly.


Politics, not religion
Yeah, I know most people think I'm anti-Obama. I'm not - I'm anti-stupid government, preferring the government stay out of my business and tax me the minimum amount to keep required services functional. I don't mind paying taxes, but I certainly mind paying taxes for a bloated government and subsidizing programs that don't help people. I do think Mr. Obama is a bit full of himself, but I think that about almost every politician I know. After all, politics is sort of like Facebook or Twitter - the more likes or followers you get, the higher up the food chain you go. That takes quite an ego.

That's a bad segue into the Affordable Care Act. The Obamacare issue is once again (still?) at the forefront of USA politics. Some people would rather pay the penalty than enroll. I'm not sure I understand all the financial aspects of Obamacare yet, but the numbers in this article are striking to me. A couple earning $50,000 per year "would receive a roughly $1,300 subsidy, leaving them to pay about $4,750 in premiums for the year. But that compares to a $300 penalty." I think I might pay the penalty, too. As one person said, "I don't really want to pay a penalty, but it's more economical for me to pay $300 a year [in fines] than $200 to $300 a month for insurance I don't use."

Of course, the penalties increase over time. For 2016 and beyond, the penalties for ignoring Obamacare are $695 per adult or 2.5% of the family income. Ouch.

Once again the two parties in our federal government are baring their teeth at each other, using the end of the fiscal year (the end of September) as leverage to force changes to Obamacare. And, once again, the government would need to raise the debt limit in order to fund running the government. They'll find some way to push the decisions down the road a few more months. That's just our government's way of funding themselves with money that doesn't really exist. The biggest problem is the cuts the government will institute will directly affect many of our fellow citizens, employed by the government. Congress, of course, will keep getting paid, as will our Executive branch.

By the way, you can't run your household or business that way - you'd be broke, starving and homeless.

Iran's president appealed directly to us, the citizens of the USA, to help end the hostile relationships between our country and theirs. Hello? Congress? I liked what I read. Would somebody please go talk to the guy? I mean, the entire world doesn't have to do things our way, and we should still be able to get along with them.

Which is pretty much what Pope Francis just said. "Thomas Groome, a professor of theology and religious education at Boston College, [said] 'He doesn't want to just harp on birth control and gay marriage, he wants to bring us back to compassion, mercy, outreach to the poor and inclusion of the marginalized'." Well said.


Just Weird
The coming Apocalypse (did you read the political stuff above?) is going to be easy to solve. One company developed a system to modify our bodies to help us survive. I won't even go into the details, but a renal implant? Ouch. That does sound like the government!

I actually prefer the twelve-course meal in a can idea.


Gaming
Blizzard will discontinue the Diablo 3 auction houses next March. Right after Diablo 3 came out, the Lad made more money on it than I did in all my apps combined. Ouch.

Here's a funny one. The Subutai Corporation (with Neal Stephenson) ran a Kickstarter project to fund developing a motion-controlled sword fighting game. Backers successfully funded the project with over the $500,000 they were asking for to develop the game. Now the company is saying they don't have enough money. It isn't their fault, they say. This is actually a pretty funny article to read, especially all the excerpts from Subutai about why they ran out of money. I think they must have been using the Federal government plan for budgets!

This guy is developing a Starcraft Universe and he's doing it with all the legitimate tools provided by Blizzard. It does look very cool. It's more a Diablo III game than a World of Warcraft, but it might be fun.




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