Saturday, 30 July 2011

Macintosh OS 10.7: Lion

Another two years go by, another Mac osx upgrade, thusly do we measure the passage of our years.
My thoughts. I was not in a hurry to upgrade. First, I did not see a huge improvement between 10.6 and 10.7. Second, I was not in a locale which allowed for large downloads, however, this has all changed and last night I did the deed. 
First thoughts: not much to get excited about, and a few minor annoyances. The reverse scrolling for one. Back in the old days, when one scrolled downwards with two fingers on the trackpad the window in which one was scrolling moved upwards, with 10.7 it is the opposite. This mimics both ios and ‘real’ life, so I am told, however, I do not like this ‘feature’, which I reversed.
There is also a general dumbing down present in the new os. Apple wants to make the os transparent, akin somewhat to ios, where file and folders do not exist, at least for the user. For example, where is my drive? By default it is not visible in Lion. I am long past the geek phase of my life, but come on, I like to see something and to be able to do some things.
Another small annoyance, side bar colours. In the good old days the osx finder sidebar had coloured icons. The colours made finding and identifying the different icons easier, now they are all a muted grey. This is doubly annoying as in days gone by grey indicated a non-operational feature. Bring back the colours. Also on the interface, the three little buttons thingees on top of the os windows are now smaller. These buttons exit, hide and maximise the window, great, but the small buttons are slightly more difficult to click.
I am also disappointed about the lack of a speed boost. I assumed that with two years to play around with the os that there would be a small performance increase, but no.
After two days of use I find that most of the changes I am making to the default Lion layout are intended to make Lion look like Snow Leopard. I can find nothing in Lion that I want, and several things I do not. Disappointed.

Saturday, 16 July 2011

Thailand: the Pheu Thai Party—the ‘Red Shirts’—take office

A little over a year ago many people in Thailand—certainly in Bangkok—believed that the Red Shirts were over as a political force. After occupying the city centre for months and shutting down several major shopping centres(!), in May 2010 the Thai army ‘swept’ the city of Bangkok clean of red shirt protesters, killing over 90 in doing so, including a 16 year old boy. The city, or at least its ‘elite’ quickly got back to the business of making money and tried to forget that for several months the streets had been dominated by protesters from the rural provinces, however, this death knell was premature, the red shirts did not give up, nor forget.
The basis of the red shirt power is a seemingly unlikely combination between an emergent capitalist class, which came into existence in the previous generation riding the wave of Thai industrialisation, and the rural poor, those who believe that they are getting the sharp end of Thai economic progress. Impatient with the restrictions, which the traditional landed aristocracy have imposed, this new business class made common cause with the effectively disenfranchised rural electors. This alliance had propelled a seemingly unlikely “people’s hero” to high office, the former Prime Minister and now exiled Mr Thaksin Shinawatra, a wealthy business tycoon.  
Now, from July 2011, his sister, the new leader of the Pheu Thai Party, is the new Prime Minister of Thailand, and the first female PM of Thailand. Congratulations.
I am not familiar with the details of how this new PM and government came to power. This would be an interesting story in itself, however, it is clearly an example of excellent planning, design and execution. The past year and a half saw the Reds survive continual harassment from the government and bureaucracy. Red Shirt leaders were arrested for various reasons, there publications seized and destroyed. The Red leaders were forced to have their printing carried out in Cambodia, and of course when they brought the material into Thailand it was seized and destroyed. A continual rain of petty harassment.
During the election campaign this continued. The ballot papers displayed an erroneously small Red Shirt party logo, many more ballot papers were printed than were needed—some speculated that these ‘extra’ papers would be used to increase the government vote, soldiers were arrested for harassing Red electors prior to the election, more Red leaders were arrested or threatened with arrest. Yet with all of this the Pheu Thai party won the election with 265 seats out of 500. 
I do not know what will happen in Thailand, nor if the new government will prove successful, or not, but it is encouraging to see ordinary people organise and achieve victory. Again, congrats.

A few more election posters, this time from Bangkok: