On Lem’s Pericalypsis

perfectVacuumIn the foreword of that joke book that is Perfect Vacuum, where its author, the Polish essayist Stanislaw Lem, reviews a series of nonexistent literary works (they reside only in the universe of his boundless imagination), the prologue writer tells us that, with this, Lem tries to give life to — or perhaps get rid of some of his overabundant ideas, considering that he has much more literary projects than biological lifespan to accomplish them. Thus, by the resource of ‘reviewing’ a few novels that, attributed to equally fictitious authors, he would’ve written himself were his life to last longer, he at least can offer to us the thought arguments or plots, along with the possible, suggested controversy or debate the hypotetical lecturers of the nonexistent books might have come up with. By the way, and for icing the cake, by the end of the foreword we are hinted to suspect that this, too — the foreword itself — is, in turn, Lem’s own craft, and not another person’s. Quite a feat of literary juggling.
Perfect Vacuum is an excellent work; a display of dialectic dexterity, intelligence, logic, and fantasy in equal measure with imagination, all of which at some passages has made me swoon.
And because I have so much liked it, I’m quoting here four of such paragraphs; not necessarily the best, but in any case remarkable ones, most of all considering the decade (the 70’s) they were written, which should suffice to give us an idea of Lem’s amazing clearvoyance and prophetic dowry. All four quotes belong to Perycalipsis, one of the book ‘reviews’ featured in the volume. Continue reading “On Lem’s Pericalypsis”

Paypal’s dubious practices flounder prepaid cards

paypalAs a result of some legal offences carried out by Paypal associates Younique Money (YUM) who manage the PP-prepaid cards in Spain, from February 6th 2015 all cardnolders found out that their balances had been frozen and were useless, without any guarantee of ever recovering their money. Despite the cards being issued under Paypal’s patronage, logotype and publicity, yet the USA based multinational has dodged the issue and, under excuse that YUM is ‘just an associate’, Paypal has ditched their customers and refused to back up or compensate the victims, leaving aside vouchsafing for the lost credits. Continue reading “Paypal’s dubious practices flounder prepaid cards”

+50 screenshots revealing Windows phone issues. A WP8 review.

This is a difficult article because the list of issues and flaws of Windows Phone is close to inexahustible. At the beginning, some months ago, my intention was to cover them all, but, overwhelmed by what I realized was a superhuman task, not being inexhaustible myself, at a given point I stopped, deeming it Mission impossible. Still, I hope I did some useful work which, despite not being complete, can surely convey to the curious reader some idea about this extremely buggy and unforgivably restrictive operating system from Microsoft.
Also please mark that this is not a review proper, but a list of reasons–some feeble, some very powerful–to rule out the purchase of a Windows phone, for most consumers. Sure, the system has its virtues, who can deny it?; like for instance its stability; but it’s the type of stability you can find also in the good old hand-cranked telephones: as they have no features, they won’t break. If one hundred restrictions and limitations is the price for stability, it’s too high a price in my opinion. In any case, it’s not true that restrictions are the price for stability; that’s only what Microsoft wants us to believe. The real reason behind WP8’s restrictions is purely commercial. Continue reading “+50 screenshots revealing Windows phone issues. A WP8 review.”

Facebook hands over your privacy to Booking.com and a number of other websites

Today, all my alarms about internet privacy (or rather lack thereof) rang out loud. I was checking my Facebook wall when I came across one of those ads we’re getting of late: it was Booking.com advertising hotel rooms available in Nazaré (a tiny little village in Portugal). Nothing to worry about, if it weren’t because last night I had been searching for hotels in Nazaré via Booking.com. I was not logged in; my Booking.com email is different from the Facebook one; both emails are not linked in any way… Obviously, then, it was not a coincidence: there is one chance in a million for getting an ad of the same forlorn place I had been checking last night. To my knowledge, there’s only one way this can happen: Booking.com and Facebook.com are interchanging cookies, crossing databases: i.e., they’re telling each other about our private information, so that they can sell us something. I know we’re in the era of zero privacy, yet this is the most shameless and blatant case of handing over private information without consentment that I’ve ever come across. So, beware out there, internauts. They call it “interest-based advertising”.

Rautalampi’s ghastly fog

It’s been decades since I’m bothering my friends with the preach that, in a clever society, some rudiments of thermodynamics should be taught in mandatory elementary school, for reasons not solely environmental but also economical. Unfortunately, very few of us are aware of how many resources (directly translatable to money, for those who don’t care about sustainability) are lost only because of our ignorance about heat transmission processes.
This digression–apparently out of place in a journey account–has come to my mind after visiting my friend Jussi in Kuru (about fifty kilometres north of Tampere), where his house is placed; a house designed and built by himself with criteria equally practical, aesthetical and of energy optimization, specially stressing on insulation and other measures for minimizing thermical losses; and the results are amazing: Continue reading “Rautalampi’s ghastly fog”