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Cybernaut

Brevity is wit, sometimes

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The latest in a long list of Internet sensations is a cantankerous 73-year-old man, as quoted by his 28-year-old son Justin - who evidently still lives with his parents and doesn't pay rent. You can find it, obviously, on Twitter where all the cool kids are hanging out these days; just look up Shitmydadsays and get ready to laugh. I've even subscribed to the RSS feed.

The first collected quote - there are about 30 so far - is "I didn't live to be 73 years old so I could eat kale. Don't fix me your breakfast and pretend you're fixing mine." My favourite is "How the fuck should I know if it's still good? Eat it. You get sick, it wasn't good. You people, you think I got microscopic fucking eyes."

As of Aug. 27 this Tweet had 111,000 subscribers. As of Aug. 28 there were 156,000. That's how quickly these things go viral.

I still haven't bothered with Twitter (www.twitter.com) because I haven't really seen the point - very few of my friends are on it, and I could care less what various celebrities are up to. More examples like Shitmydadsays could change my mind about that, but that's the whole trouble with a democratic web - there's so much material out there and so little of it is actually good enough to be worth the time you're wasting.

Enter a slightly different variation of the Twitter phenomenon called Woofer. Unlike Twitter, where a message is limited to 140 characters, Woofer (www.woofertime.com) won't publish any message under 1,400 characters - about one third the length of this page.

The thinking behind Woofer is that 140 characters is too few to write any tweets of substance, that Twitter has created this paradigm where people write pointless soundbites about themselves in attempt to create meaning and a sense of place in a world that's clearly moving too fast. At least that's how I see it.

Woofer, by contrast, is supposed to make people think more about the things they write and post. If you're going to take the time to write something hundreds of words long then those words should ultimately be more meaningful. In theory at least.

Instead, Woofer users are mostly posting long quotes, pieces of articles, and diary entries, etc. but most are from people brought up on texting who look on writing 1,400 characters as a challenge.

Is there any point to Woofer? Was there any point to Tweeter?

I wonder what a certain 73-year-old man would have to say about that.

Caution: Snow Leopard

The general consensus out there is that Snow Leopard is a great update to the Apple operating system, trimming the fat (goodbye PowerPC, hello Intel), tweaking system performance to speed things up, bringing Expose to the Dock, enhancing 64-bit support and so on. It's a series of incremental improvements and probably worth the $39.

However, early adopters are having some problems using software after purchasing the upgrade. For example, if you spent a few thousand dollars to purchase Adobe Creative Suite 4, or spent hundreds to buy Aperture or Keynote (both Apple programs), you are probably kind of pissed right now. And some vendors have announced that they have no plans to support Snow Leopard in the near future.

A complete list of software that won't work with Snow Leopard is being maintained at www.gizmodo.com. Check before you upgrade.

Getting Steam'ed

Video game bundling is the latest craze for manufacturers, thanks to Valve making a leap of faith and releasing Orange Box in 2006. You can now buy 2K Games hits Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion and Bioshock - two of the top-reviewed games in recent years - for one low price of $40. In the fall, Capcom is releasing a Platinum Hits triple pack of Dead Rising , Lost Planet: Extreme Condition and Devil May Cry 4 in a single box for $40.

But if you're a PC gamer, nobody can touch the deals that Steam (www.steam.com), the hugely popular game download site, is offering.

According to Joystiq (www.joystiq.com), Steam is offering a suite of 12 games for just $75, including top games like S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl , Company of Heroes and Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War .

This is getting good. Whether the economy is to blame/thank, or companies have finally woken up to the concept that people don't care whether a game is new as long as it's fun to play, who knows? And if we're getting two games or more for less than the price of one, who really cares?

Google Books is great

There are a lot of free resources on the Internet, but the truly great ones are the most comprehensive - one stop shopping for everything in the world you could possibly ever need. Google Books (http://books.google.com) is like that, a free repository containing millions of books for downloading to portable devices. Full books are available where the copyright has expired or where an agreement exists with the author, and other books are available for preview.

So far the Amazon Kindle doesn't support the format, but the Sony eBook does. There's also an app for that if you have an iPhone, although Google Android phones have an advantage here.

Check it out for yourself, and prepare to have your mind blown.

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