In an earnest effort to support the pissed off pussy and FM/2 Publications I built a computer for a really great person. We went to Fry’s and picked up a Taiwanese chassis with front-panel connections for audio, FireWire and USB:

front panel

I quickly discovered that my old-ass ABIT KT7A RAID motherboard, similar to the one recommended by the blokes at arstechnica.com (c. 2001) would not support these connectors without a fight. You see me here, with my pinky finger in a bandage holding the dual USB connector for the front panel:

dual USB connection

And here we have a lovely floral arrangement of dual FireWire connections sprouting from the system unit:

FireWire flower

So it appears that the experiment is to use cables from FRONTX.com to bypass the shortcomings designed into the motherboard. I have not yet tried this experiment and am concerned that any wrong move on my part could smoke the computer and inconvenience a really, really great asset of humanity. The cable shipments have arrived and the boxes are just sitting there… waiting…

So there is guy named Gabriel Torres and his article “Installing Frontal USB Ports” keeps provoking me to go for it. But you have no idea what it is like when the pissed off pussy is disappointed… so I hold back… waiting… (Insert famous Jaws theme music here.)

By way of that other “someone,” Peter Sefton let me know about Simon St. Laurent, his Blog post, “Holes in Microsoft Office XML.” (Hey, Peter, you see how I openly name Blog writers instead of being concerned about fraternizing with possible undesirables that use words like ‘fat chicks’ and ‘strong African features’?) It would be a healthy academic exercise to respond to his points from my ‘unique’ (and clearly unmentionable) perspective:

Simon: WordprocessingML is a horrible mess.

Bryan: Yes, it is. And I agree with your theory about serialization as my theories about why WordprocessingML is so damn hard to read are more conspiratorial, based on ‘discouraging’ developers to parse the tags. They should provide options to export subsets based on the modularization of schema. In the mean time, I have bypassed WordprocessingML entirely and use the XHTML schemas from the W3C to handle my business.

Simon: Word’s XML functionality isn’t integrated with its existing style functionality.

Bryan: Bingo! You win! As you say, this design flaw is what really makes XML functionality in Word a “1.0 release.” Moreover, I would like to see XML-related Find/Change operations in Word—and redesign of Find/Change itself (with especial regard to handling noncontiguous selections through automation).

Simon: Word’s XML functionality has awful interactivity.

Bryan: I’m not sure at what you are getting at here. But my misunderstanding may be due to my relative command over VBA and C# in VSTO. So any “interactivity” solution in Word is just another development project in my queue. I take it as a compliment that I would be considered “non-traditional” in the most positive sense of the word for those job interviewers who have no doubts about my qualifications.

Simon: InfoPath is its own universe.

Bryan: Yes. And I would not be surprised to hear that at least three people of the other Office Dev’ teams at Microsoft do not want InfoPath to succeed. And with regard to XForms, I look forward to any open source solution that rivals what’s cash for Redmond. I have yet to find any and I am still looking. When, say, Mono technology is used to automate a suite like OpenOffice.org, I will sit up take notice.

Simon: .NET and VBA are two different cultures.

Bryan: Yes, but I am almost holistically required to be able to understand multiple cultures deeply. I write for humans and machines with equal respect for both forms. So I can’t just use any word processor. What I will say, in support of your comment, is that the current state of VSTO makes rapid development in Office a joke—especially for us C# coders. I need VBA to develop Office apps primarily because of its edit-and-continue features. When I finish writing this Blog post in Word, I will run my VBA code that will automatically apply XHTML tags (based on styles and formatting) and export this post to the Clipboard as XHTML to be pasted into WordPress. VBA allows me to drill in almost instantly when any bugs pop up in this process. To have Visual Studio open every time I get ready to write a Blog post about ‘strong African features’ or fat chicks is stupid—even for unmentionable me. Eventually my set of known bugs will disappear and I will write the code all over again in C# under VSTO. Sad but true.

Simon: Who needs this again?

Bryan: This kind of question feels to me like the same surface many skim over when they write for the Web without regard for traditional typography. Who needs em dashes and curly quotes? Microsoft made damn sure to pack all of the compelling features billionaire money can buy into Microsoft Word. I still need these features because I consider myself a seasoned writer. Most open source word processors either can’t or won’t pay attention to a myriad of fine details in the writing experience that Microsoft Word—bloated as it is—provides. For example, in AbiWord, the glyphs are not hinted and smoothed so they sit on the screen in what appears to me a jaggy jumble. So does Microsoft make sure that the developers of this product can’t hint and smooth fonts? Or is there something else?

Jumbo Dumb Terminals of the Future

jumbo terminals You are looking at the platform shoes of the computing world. Huge, white jumbo dumb terminals in the 1980 Adaptation of Ursula K. Le Guin’s The Lathe of Heaven. During the early 1980s, I actually worked on computers like these when I was a fourteen-year-old computer science student in some ‘special kids’ program at Cal State, Los Angeles. So we can be extremely generous with justifying the design of this film and propose that our hero, George Orr, is dreaming a world of the future but can’t quite envision all of the future, futuristically. So computers, telephones, chairs, Formica, manila folders and jovial bald guys don’t look that much different from the contemporary world where this film was made.

Even back in the late 70s, I am sure that these computers were not that futuristic—but then again I may be underestimating just how innocent the American public was in the 1970s. Remember that the 1970s was the era of the Pet Rock.

A patch of grass surrounding a dead fountain is a few feet south of this street:

Elephant Walk Restaurant in Leimert Park

This patch of grass, bordered by the busy streets of Crenshaw and Vernon, saw a grown man and woman alone—with two children (one of whom could not walk quite yet)—running around like crazy yesterday afternoon. The drivers passing by usually see some kind of government/corporate-controlled festival happening or some drummers in a circle—or some teens hanging with parked police cars—but yesterday a father and mother went to this patch of grass to play with their children. After the park, the mother held a lecture at Harambe Marketplace (off Crenshaw and Slauson):

Khenemet User-t

This is Khenemet User-t, the mother of my third child, my first daughter. You may wonder why I do not call her my wife. And, of course, my father would deride me with more accusations of delusions of grandeur but just let me say when you find me marrying so easily then you are enjoying a world free of imperial patriarchy, creating artificial scarcity. I envy you deeply. A quick example of this artificial scarcity is the fact that a disproportionate number of marriageable North American people with strong African features are dead or in prison—the physical prison and the mental one. My case is a bit more complicated and when I stop being so damn “pretentious” and “stupid,” I’ll get it right someday—why didn’t I find a good church girl and settle down in the suburbs? Meanwhile, I thought it would be cute to wait around for her lecture to finish. We waited a little longer than expected:

waiting...

When anyone with strong African features tells you that it is “easy” to get married, be married and raise a family then either a nation of millions have not been doing their job and more Black children need to be underdeveloped in more dysfunctional families—or you are talking to a chum who graduated in the same class as our dear Lady Condoleezza Rice who can afford to fake it.

The events of my life, of course, make me biased but the battle to raise the next generation of African children is the struggle. It should not be treated as a sideline. It is the center. Almost all of my ‘properly’ educated friends and associates who are “doing it by the book” have no children. Evidently, these people wish to rival the negative population growth of the “developed nations.” Much respect to my college roommate Dr. Darryl Dickson-Carr for doing it by the book—and raising children with his wife. Read “Dr. Darryl B. Dickson-Carr: The Satirical Interview” at kintespace.com for more about my homies.

I refuse to buy a new tube television—and those who know that I grew up in the ghetto would smack me for not keeping it real. Every ‘black dude’ needs his big-ass color television—shit, even Hannibal tried to steal the Coliseum out of Rome so he can catch the games.

Tube Tee Vees are old school. They are not flexible enough to integrate into the new, high-definition world, of light-weight, streamlined, personal computing—and I refuse to invest in a new one. It really breaks my heart to know that so few of my chocolate colored associates use computers to free themselves from broadcast television and commercial cable hooked up to a big-ass dumb tube. I can’t escape the sight of people voluntarily fettering themselves to commercial television instead of replacing it with one’s own programming. It’s like listening to the radio exclusively instead of building one’s own record collection. I thought only financially impoverished people do that… Wrong! I was shocked to find that bling-bling folks want to be a captive audience and will go into immediate withdrawal when you turn the idiot-part of the idiot box off. So the picture below should look very strange and foreign to many of my homies:

Jean Paoli, Co-creator of XML on the Full-Screen Device

I know this looks a little primitive folks but I guess I’ve always felt a little different from the other boys growing up: I want to control what comes into my living space and I see that pollution comes in many forms besides what’s on garbage trucks and in smokestacks. So, above you see me rocking Channel 9 and Jean Paoli (Co-creator of XML) instead of blasting another fried chicken commercial. What’s more is that I can pump the same signal to my television from my ‘media server’ in the next room (via long-ass Monster cables). This kicks ass. It beats down yet another news anchor covered in clown makeup trying to tell me about the real world. Dan Rather? Peter Jennings? All whores! It’s all about Amy Goodman, streaming over the web on my demand!

So keep in mind that my media server in the next room also has a DVD player and can output what’s on the computer screen as well. So when my son is playing MS Flight Simulator I can watch him throughout the crib—and, for a brief moment, he has total control of the media intake of the whole house. How’s that for child development? We are all watching him do something. Instead of all of us sitting around doing nothing as chicken-fried couch potatoes.

So the prices for LCD panels look very attractive this year and they come with all the connections. As soon as I get some sugar-momma money from one of my rich friends I’ll be set.