Android or IOS?


I don’t own a smart-phone.

First, it doesn’t fit comfortably in the back-pocket of my jeans, and second, I don’t find it sensible to spend $100 a month for a plethora of features I will hardly ever really need. I’ve a tiny mp3 player from Sansa that I sometimes carry in my backpack, and if I want to entertain myself, I can either read a book or catch up with things on the netbook that goes wherever I go.

But, if I were to get a smart-phone, it would be from Apple, even though I’m pretty sure that Android is just as good, if not better, than IOS.

Android seems to be going in the same direction as Windows. An operating system with a number of holes, that would be better-plugged by a full re-write than by almost two decades worth of patches (no, as a programmer, I don’t buy any of Microsoft’s allegations that Windows x, y, or z was a full re-write of a previous incarnation – bugs don’t carry over from one re-write to another). And Android is not likely to be re-written from scratch in order to harden it to attack. The world of open source simply lacks the resources.

Volunteers can’t afford the time needed for a re-write – version x+1 is more important than rewriting version x in order to fix it if it is to stay competitive vis-a-vis commercial wares. Companies like Microsoft can’t afford to because it affects their bottom-line and, gasp, their stock’s value (owner employees have a conflict of interest, if you ask me). And Apple doesn’t need to because they were never interested in a product that shows openness of any kind.


Privacy – yes, I know, more of the same…

It’s quite ironic that science fiction has led us to believe that it would be government who, by 1984, would be watching our every move and know more about ourselves than us, yet it is the poster children of the free enterprise, Google, Facebook, who would really have this ability and we’d be asking our governments to find a way to curb their voracity for the data that are our lives.

Google doesn’t say much about what it does with our information, but it’s just a matter of time before their vast database of emails, search patterns, clicks, and, lately, phone call transcriptions (possibly done in real time) are offered for hire, providing anyone willing to pay the price with a chillingly accurate image of our lives.

Facebook keeps making statements, which are changed about every six months in subtle ways, but judging about how the social network works, they should stop the crap, come to terms with reality, and change the name of their privacy policy to “publicity policy.” I’m the first to admit that it provides a rather pathetic picture of who most of the people in my contacts list really are (and how little they have to offer), but I can’t get away from it for prolonged periods of time. It appeals to my (and everybody else’s) narcissistic sense of self.

Will any of this happen? I don’t think so. As much as we hate the beast, we just can’t stop feeding it. They’re like those mythological creatures that feed on hate, yet everyone hates them.

The alternate reality of buying a car

I’ve bought two cars in the past twenty years. Both were equally-traumatic experiences, probably because I’m not accustomed to haggling, know very little about the process of buying a car, and the wounds caused by salesmen who were dishonest by nature never healed.

This time, I decided that it’s not worth it to buy a new car, so I looked online for the model I want (a Honda CR-V for less than ten grand.

With the internet and all, it should be straight-forward. Do a search, narrow it to a car I like, go to the dealer, have the car looked at by a mechanic, pay, and drive away.

Man, was I WRONG.

Yesterday, as I approached the dealership I was greeted by half a dozen people standing outside. As I saw the group, all I could think about was that my daughter better never bring anyone looking like this home when she grows up. I realize that all generalizations are wrong, but this was just surreal and all rules are off.

They told me to ask for Carlos, who greeted us and introduced Henry, who would take care of us.

I asked him about the car I saw online for $8,940 and he confirmed that it was still available and then proceeded to ask for my personal information as he filled-out a form in his computer and then took my driver’s license to make a copy of it. He came back about five minutes later with a key. I think we sat there for about 20 minutes, as every time he got up he didn’t take less than 5 minutes to return.

We drove the car around for a bit, and even though there wasn’t any financing available for this one, he asked how much I wanted to finance and how much I wanted to pay per month. I told him that I don’t budget per month but per purchase and he didn’t push on.

When we got back to the dealership, he started scribbling numbers on a sheet of paper.


“What are these?” I asked.

695 is the prep fee, because we have to prepare the car.

595 is the internet fee, because we have to advertise the car.

198 is the window etching.

398 is the documentation fee.

176 is the motor vehicle fee.

Then there are the taxes (7%)

In other words, a car advertised for $8940 ended up costing about $2,500 more after everything’s said and done.

What irks me the most is that the internet fee and the “prep,” which is nothing but an obscenely-expensive car wash seemed so bogus. At least, unlike the last time I bought a car, they didn’t present the $200 window etching sum as some official-sounding fee. I, of course, refused that one and he took it off, but not the bullshit “prep” and “internet” fees. (I’m pretty sure that the other fees are also crap.)

Either way, since I liked the car and valued my serenity more than the satisfaction of telling this man what I really think of him and every other car salesman in the world, and because I figured I’d have to face the same crap regardless of where I go, I just swallowed hard and said that I’d think about it.

He said that since this is memorial weekend the car wouldn’t be available next week and I said OK, good for you.

He asked for a moment and came back with his just-as-sleazy-looking manager, who said that we could put down a deposit of as little as $200 and they’d keep it for us. I asked in three different ways if the deposit would be refundable and he said it would. I had him write it on the front of the contract and sign it. I also asked if I could take the car to a mechanic to have it checked and he also agreed, so I gave him my credit card.

Today, as the mechanic checked it, he balked when I told him how much I was going to pay for the car and he also found a number of problems with it.

When I returned to the dealership, I showed the report to Henry and told him that I wouldn’t be buying the car. He showed me another for about $19,000 (newer model, with warranty) and asked, again, in three different ways, what other fees they’d piggy-back on this one. I would end up paying about $21,000 for this one.

I told him that I’d think about it and in the meantime I want my $200 back.

“Today’s a Saturday, so the office is closed, but they will reverse the charge on Wednesday.” I could’ve been a hard-ass, but decided not to. I can always call citibank and refuse the charge (or so I hope). No point wasting energy on this.

We’ll see what happens. Especially because I can’t find the contract now. Don’t know if I misplaced it or, through sleigh of hand, he kept it.

The bottom line is that people need cars and all dealers act the same sleazy way. This is one industry I will never feel sorry for.

Procrastination and the courts

Today as I ran, I thought about procrastination (something I often catch myself doing) and I was going to write about it when I got home, but I’ll do that tomorrow.

Shortly after that thought, ADD kicked in and my mind went in 20 different directions, like it so often does. Then, for a brief instant, I looked to my right and there was this sign (I’ll post the picture tomorrow) at the entrance of a passageway listing the “Passageway Rules” (the word “rules”, in this case, is not used as a verb).

I had to do a double-take, for I couldn’t believe that a passageway that’s roughly 15 by 15 feet, right through a building, would have “rules”. After reading it, my guess was that the building’s owner has an attorney with a shopping problem, so he needs to make himself “useful” in order to pay for his habit.

If a simple passageway has rules important enough to be engraved on a bronze plaque and displayed prominently (more so than the building’s very name!), it’s no surprise that our legal system is buried under what is probably the vastest collection of laws, regulations, and rules in the world. I have no proof of this, but I have a very strong hunch that this is, indeed, the case.

In the 231 years that this country can claim as its history, more of these edicts have been written than probably in the preceeding 5000 years of WORLD history (again, don’t quote me on this as I’m only speculating and it’s late and I suffer from ADD).

I think it’s absurd that there’s an ongoing fight here to remove the ten commandments from court buildings because they establish a connection between [organized] religion and government. The reason I find it absurd is that disconnecting ten puny laws from a body that includes THOUSANDS of them is akin to stealing a book from the Library of congress!!! (use of lower case very intentional)

Of course, to those [idiots] that are opposed to displaying the ten commandments prominently in any court because THEY think that it blurs the line that supposedly separates church from state, accomplishing their goal is particularly hard because humanity (and especially US people, being adept as they are to stating laws, regulations, and rules) would have come to those 10 laws anyway! If you choose not to believe that they came from God (and I’m not saying that they did or didn’t), you would have to be in denial not to accept that aside from the few that are obviously meant to perpetuate people’s belief in one God, they’re just laws of common sense in order to live in an environment involving more than 2 people. See, if humanity were only 2 people, “Thou shalt not murder” would really be moot after human #1 killed human #2, not to mention that “Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s wife” would make these 2 poor people spend the rest of their days wondering what the hell is a wife, or what the hell is a neighbor if they’re married to one another.

Anyway, and not to stray, too much, at least, from my main point, it’s not enough that the first word we learn right after “da-da” and “pooh” is “NO”, but we must experience that concept continuously until we have children of our own to pass on the legacy and even after that, everywhere we turn to, there’s a street sign that starts with “no”, and when we’re not driving, our lives are ruled by an overwhelming number of NO’s.

Lame disclaimers department

I was looking for a movie in (“The wave” or “Die Welle” in German – the movie’s original language) when I came across this little jewel:

“Warning: This product is intended for mature audiences only. It may contain violence, sexual content, drug abuse and/or strong language. You must be 17 or older to purchase it. By ordering this item you are certifying that you are at least 17 years of age.”

I guess it could be transposed to guns and read “We don’t sell guns to people without permits, but by giving us your money, as far as we’re concerned, you have a permit.”

Ahhhh lawyers.

And if you’re wondering, Blockbuster doesn’t carry the movie. Netflix, however, does.

1st place in my category 5Km race!!!!

Today I ran a 5Km race for the first time (not the first time I run that distance, but I’ve never ran in any race – heck, I’ve never been involved in competitive anything).

I made 1st place for the “42-year old Venezuelan men living in Hoboken” category 😉

OK, seriously, I was the 321st person to cross the finish line, but I did the whole thing in a bit under half hour (28 min 47 sec), which means that I did push myself a little after all, even though I didn’t intend to.

My plan was to run these 5Km just as I would when I do it for pleasure, but on those occasions it takes me about 34 minutes to run the same distance. Pretty neat, eh?

The remarkable thing about the race was the rush of taking off with another 600 people. The energy radiated by the group was something really amazing, and I felt goose bumps continuously as I ran the first 10 or so minutes. I just couldn’t help feeling euphoric.

I guess my life’s not as uninteresting after all…

How interesting is my life? Really.

I officially set out on this blog thing 3 days ago. I thought that my life and opinions would be interesting enough to have something new to write practically every day, but when you have to really start pounding the keyboard or, more poetically, when you have to put pen to paper, it becomes evident that every day life isn’t as interesting as one would like to think.

In other words, everyday, life isn’t as interesting as it should be.

I’ve a feeling that this is what happened to the other two blogs I complain about in my preface ( and I think they simply over-estimated their own lives in terms of how interesting they might be.

Yet, I’m not giving up on this. I’m still going to try get this blog to fruition. Just bear with me a bit more.

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