Some Rants

A few things have been getting on my nerves lately, so I thought I’d rant about them here.

First of all, when writing out times for the United States (such as you would in an email or on a website), you have several options. You should probably just use ET for “Eastern Time” (or AT, CT, MT, PT or HT, for Atlantic Time, Central Time, Mountain Time, Pacific Time or Hawaiian Time). However, if you must be fancy and use EST or EDT (for “Eastern Standard Time” or “Eastern Daylight Time”), please get a clue and use them correctly! There is no such time as “9PM EST, July 13”, because July 13 occurs in daylight time. It’s just funny how some people go to the trouble to use “EST” instead of “ET” and then use it incorrectly.

Secondly, allow me to dispel one misconception I see popping up all the time on message boards these days: you don’t need 64-bit applications on x64 versions of Windows. For the most part, 32-bit applications work just fine. I use 32-bit versions of Firefox 3.6.6 and Office 2010 all day long on my x64 computer with vary a problem. The only thing that really needs to be x64 are antivirus apps and system utilities, and that’s more about the way they interact with the operating system than any native i386 vs. x64 issue. Those apps are also the very same ones you’d expect to update when going from Windows XP to Windows 7 anyway, so that shouldn’t surprise you. Also, 64-bit applications aren’t any “faster” on x64 operating systems, so if you think that “64-bit Firefox would be so much faster on my system than the 32-bit version” you’re sadly misinformed. While it’s true that 64-bit apps offer slightly more protection in Win7 than 32-bit ones (assuming the app’s authors take advantage of it), it’s the only benefit to running an x64 web browser. The main advantage to using x64 versions of apps is that they can address far more memory than 32-bit apps. So if you need to work with gigantic Excel spreadsheets, then x64 Excel is for you. Other than that, stick with 32-bit, OK?

Thirdly – and I can’t believe I’m still talking about this in 2010 – Microsoft has made two major email applications: Outlook and Outlook Express. Outlook is part of Microsoft Office and costs money. Outlook Express was free and used to come bundled with Internet Explorer. The two programs are completely different, and it bothers me to no end that people will post questions on message boards asking for help with “Microsoft Outlook”, only to find out that they’re actually using Outlook Express. Perhaps it’s Microsoft’s fault for making free versions of their apps with the name “Express” attached (FrontPage Express is another that comes to mind). But still… they’re different programs, people. Please learn the difference. What’s more, I can’t believe that people still use Outlook Express at all. It was replaced on November 6, 2007 by Windows Live Mail, which is better than Outlook Express in almost every way. Amusingly, people post messages asking for help with OE, but refuse to upgrade to something far more secure, stable, and feature rich… even though it’s free.

Fourthly, let me just say this: no one ever thought the earth was flat. Well, the fact that the Flat Earth Society exists means that I can’t really say that no one thinks the earth is flat… but still, aside from a few crackpots, most everyone since at least the ancient Greeks has known that the earth was a sphere. In fact, Greek mathematician Eratosthenes calculated the circumference of the earth as 250,000 stadia, which is around 25,000 miles. The actual circumference of the earth is 24,902 miles. Thus, Eratosthenes’ calculations were “off” by less than the distance between Charlotte and Chapel Hill. So where does the idea of a “flat earth” come from? In the United States, it comes from Washington Irving, of all people. In 1828, Irving published A History of the Life and Voyages of Christopher Columbus, which is a highly romanticized and grossly inaccurate depiction of the explorer. In particular, the anti-Catholic Irving discusses a meeting between Columbus, Ferdinand and Isabella, and several high-ranking members of the Catholic Church, in which the religious types insist that Columbus’ voyage will fail due to the earth being flat. The reality was much more interesting: the Church had accepted Eratosthenes’ number for centuries, and it was Columbus who was the crackpot, relying on the much smaller circumference calculated by Marinus of Tyre in AD 114. It was the Church who told Columbus that he was wrong, and he, in fact, was. Had Columbus not run into the New World he would have starved to death. Because he was wrong and the Church was right.

Lastly… who the hell are the people who use the words “hamberg” (for ground beef), “draw” (for drawer), and “bumber” (for “bumper”)? Political correctness has forced even yours truly from using the word “retarded” much these days, but seriously… people who use those words here in 2010 either sound like a frickin’ retard… or someone trapped in the 1950s. I’m seriously asking, BTW. Is it a Minnesota thing or something?

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