Fear will keep the local systems in line

Friday, April 10, 2009

We have three greyhounds, and, to be honest, they're fairly well-behaved most of the time. But they bark and whine and growl just like any other dog. What I need is a way to train them not to do those things. I was thinking perhaps a dog whistle, something to blow when they do whatever behavior I want them to stop, and is just irritating enough to keep them from doing whatever. I was also recommended "Bark-Free" from the reputable SkyMall catalog.

Fortunately my procrastination paid off. This month's photo in the Celebrating Greyhounds 2009 wall calendar has got me covered.

They haven't barked all month.

Eldritch: Frankly, I'm terrified. But not of that picture. Now, don't get me wrong, I am deeply unnerved, unsettled to my very core by that image. I may never bark again.

But what really terrifies me, what chills be to the very core of my being, is the existence of a Celebrating Greyhounds 2009 Wall Calendar.

Pseudonym: It's part of the Celebrating Greyhounds subscription, which includes 4 issues a year on premium glossy paper and moving stories like this:

"She huddled alone in a borrowed tent. Tears, mingled with soot, streamed down her face. The smoke-filled air burned her eyes and lungs. She had just watched her home completely burn; yet she was thankful because she shaved her 15 cherished Greyhounds"

They all died, but thankfully they were clean-cut when it happened.

Eldritch: They all died, but thankfully they were clean-cut when it happened.

Bravo, sir. Bravo.

Open-Source Gaming (Mostly) Sucks!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

I'm generally a fan of open-source software. With amazing projects like Firefox, Ubuntu, VLC, and Wordpress (that list could be much larger), you could be fooled into thinking that you could run open-source software exclusively and be a happy computer user. Except when you consider gaming.

Perhaps it's because games require a cohesive vision that community-developed software can't provide. Or perhaps it's hard to marshal the development time and talent towards a project merely designed to amuse. But whatever the cause, the annals of open-source gaming are filled with badly designed, half-finished, buggy software that is painful to look at, let alone play for hours. There are scores of open-source gaming projects (much like many other kinds of open-source software) that have been abandoned for years, the only evidence of their existence being disused sourceforge pages. But games are seemingly devoid of any of the high-quality, polished projects that stand above the rest.

Even the much-touted gems of the open-source gaming world are, in a word, crappy. Projects like Frozen Bubble are filled with poorly-rendered graphics and amateurish interface schemes that are simply embarrassing. Lincity-NG, one of the most highly-touted open-source projects in terms of polish and graphics is a decent-looking game wrapped up in an interface that could have been (or was) made in MS Paint. The gameplay may be amazing (I doubt it), but there's no way to tell, since the various game structures are wrapped up in generic-sounding categories with no clear connection or intent, and there is no tutorial or single-player in-game introduction.

I could go on, but the list of gripes grows longer the further down the list of open-source games you go. For a long time, I took to complaining about open-source gaming, proclaiming that there was not a single game worth playing that was open-source and community developed (not a commercial game later released as open-source).

Until I played Battle For Wesnoth. A 2-dimensional, turn-based strategy RPG game, Wesnoth is the epitome of everything I'd come to think was impossible to find in an open-source project. It was complete, stable, and polished. The interface was clean and professional, and well laid-out to boot. The game includes a comprehensive single-player tutorial campaign, that walks you through all of the games' functions and rules, and leads directly in to one of the dozen or so polished, lengthy single-player campaigns that are included with the game's initial download. The art is fantastic. It won't push the boundaries of any graphics technology from the last decade, but 2-D, hand-crafted sprites are a pleasure to behold, and fit perfectly with the theme of the game.

So, I'm happy to admit that I was wrong about at least one member of the world of open-source games. I hope (skeptically) that it isn't the single exception that proves the rule.

I agree with you for the most part. Linux games tend to be small-scale, casual-style games for the very reasons you mention. If you look at what it takes to produce a game that has depth, like Civilization 4, the financial and organizational resources available far outstrips effort in the open source world, but also lacks the creative vision of Sid Meyer. Open-source projects do have leads, but without a way to really get everyone on the same page, the results tend to be a bit jumbled.

It's worth remembering, too, that nearly all comprehensive open-source packages (all of them, in fact that you listed, except for VLC, and even that might be) have either current financial backing, in the case of Firefox, Ubuntu, or were at one time produced commercially and have since been given over to the community (see Firefox, again, and Blender). Projects that began as community open-source projects that are cohesive and usable are rare - even Linux was based on prior work by AT&T/Bell, and has had 15 years to get to the solid but sadly unusable (at least by the general populace) state it is in.

Which brings me to my next-to-final point: It is extraordinarily common in open-source that projects have far, far more programmers than designers, software or otherwise. I'm not saying that no programmer can design software, and I certainly wouldn't suggest that all proprietary software is pretty (in a spectrum as wide as MS Office 2007 to "Bob's Awesome Legal Solution 06", with a VB interface and access backend), but as a whole the open-source community is aware of the dearth of visual designers. Here's why: for obvious reasons, the concept and importance of open-source is generally in the domain of techies, nerds, geeks, etc. Visual designers, and I include many personal friends here, could not care less that Illustrator isn't free (or even free as in beer), they just know that it's by far the best tool for the job (I write this in shame, mourning the loss of Freehand. Adobe gets a post all its own someday soon. Edit: and here it is). So they use proprietary software, but it's not as if they chose it. They simply didn't even know that there was a choice.

There's a big push, especially in the economic strife, to educate folks about open-source, but if I'm honest, I don't see a revolution happening anytime soon. Open-source will be, at least for the moment, the domain of people who care more about the beauty and elegance of the source code to the game than the beauty and elegance of the interface and art resources of the game itself.

That being said, I'm a contributor to SuperTuxKart, an extraordinarily unfun open-source clone of Mario Kart. I don't know how to program, despite being a nerd, but I do know how to make art, and so feel valuable contributing. SuperTuxKart is not enjoyable in any sense of speed or skill, but the whole point of understanding open software is to contribute what you want, where you think it'll do the most good. Go download it and play it - the website itself makes my point much clearer.

My final point: Don't be so quick to dismiss MS Paint. Though I really doubt that anyone working on Lincity-NG used it. Not when there are open-source clones available.

That's a really good point about programmers versus designers. Looking at the list of open source games, the mix of genres skews heavily towards games that can let art design and story take a back seat (FPS, 4X strategy, racing, sim game, etc). Essentially, it seems like these are 'programmer's games,' where the technology and the engine are the central focus. Witness the almost-total lack of plot-based games. In fact, that's what made Wesnoth stand out even more: it almost stands alone as an open-source RPG game (even though it is a RPG-strategy hybrid).

I didn't talk much about the formerly-commercial-now-released-as-open-source games and engines, but there, the situation is just as bad. Look at some of the engines that have released totally as open source: the Marathon engine, the Doom engine, Quake I, Quake II and Quake III. Each of those games have included, or been modified to create deeply engrossing, innovative games, with intricate plots (Marathon, Hexen, Half-Life, Heretic, Alice, Medal of Honor, Jedi Knight, Star Trek Voyager: Elite Force, etc, etc). But look at what the open-source community has done with the same engines: a deathmatch FPS, but with aliens, a different deathmatch FPS, umm... another deathmatch FPS, but with teams, and of course, there's a slightly less sci-fi deathmatch FPS, and the list goes on.

Unfortunately, the dearth of good software design in the open-source community seems to undermine a lot of the more grandiose pronouncements about the value of free and open source software development. Every time I turn around, I hear about how open source software is going to take over the world, and commercial software development is a dinosaur industry, and everything will be great when all software is developed by happy programming communes. Well, unfortunately, as far as I can see, the open source gaming situation has, merely reinforced what I always suspected: great software takes a lot of work and a lot of money, and there's no amount of overblown hyperbole about freedom that will replace the work of well-paid software designers and programmers.

Let's not be hasty. I think there's a real market share potential for a lot of open-source projects. Some are just damn good value, even if they're not damn good. OpenOffice.org comes to mind. Despite it stagnating somewhat heavily for the past couple of major releases (New Feature: Graphs are antialiased!! - notheresstillnoexcelmacroimprovement), it's always been a rather good drop-in replacement for Office for a very very large percentage of the population, even if just for home use where sharing documents isn't as important.

Some are technical masterpieces. Blender has an unbelievable amount of features packed into 20 megabytes - one of the fastest 3d modelers I've ever used in terms of efficiency, a non-linear, node-based video editor, audio processing, even a fully-embedded game engine. Yes, the interface is really really awkward, but it runs on my Acer Aspire One perfectly well (despite the trackpad, which isn't Blender's fault) and, again, 20MB. The TRIAL version of 3ds max 2010 is 800MB. Is Blender better than max? No, of course not. But it runs natively on my Mac and my linux computer, interchanges between the two and has what I need 70% of the time. I've been a 3ds max user for over 10 years, and I still use Blender for a lot of stuff, because it takes longer for 3ds max to open than it does for me to fire up Blender, make the quick change to texture mapping or whatever, save it and close out.

And for some, they are truly superior to their commercially-backed equivalents. Asterisk, Apache, Firefox, etc. These pieces of software need the campaigning to counteract the marketing of Microsoft, say. Apache still has a higher user share than IIS, and for good reason. It's about a billion times more stable, and patches to it don't require a reboot. How stupid is that when you're trying to guarantee 99.99% uptime?

Finally, there is a surprising amount of open source software in niches where no commercial alternatives even exist, including embedded kernels for ARM and other non-x86 processors (not even Apple supports PowerPC anymore), statistical analysis, scientific data collection and processing, a ton of middleware, and perhaps most famously, Networking software such as port scanners.

I heartily nod my head in agreement as re: Nexuiz, OpenArena, etc. The best things about those games have all been cribbed from the original games they're based on. They might add lens flares or something, but it's hard to get any sense that the game itself is different from Quake 3, and often, as you say, with even less plot.

But for games that are designed with no plot in mind, like Flight Sims (some which are, apparently, even more accurate in flight physics than Flight Simulator (and still being worked on. This is one area where the commercial software disappointed fans by stopping work on the project suddenly. But don't worry, says Microsoft. You can still keep buying the last release!). Games like HedgeWars, a Worms clone with graphics that are surprisingly good (and cute) for an open game, don't need a plot, and would not benefit a lick by one.

I think there's a market for open-source games that are full of plot and sophistication (even if not in the graphics or sound), and I would remind you that there is quite a large community dedicated to that very idea, one that I have been mulling over joining and contributing to for quite a few years: Adventure Gaming. Again, one of the best games in the open universe (and in my opinion, ever) is a release of original source code: Ur-Quan Masters, but there are still a few games which have depth that certainly rival the plot of even showcases of modern commercial gaming, like Quake 4 (Plot: go somewhere and kill aliens), and Call of Brothers Warfare, 1944 (Plot: kill nazis and italians. Perfect for getting your aggressions out in a PC way if you hate germans and italians. 'No, It's 1944, so it's ok. Or whatever zombie shootkill game is released. I'm not saying these games aren't fun (I personally really like the zombie genre, one of my guilty pleasures) but I stopped playing Quake 4 about 2 hours into it and have never felt any need to continue. I've never played a WWII shooter. I'm simply saying that the commercial gaming world "cheats" in terms of plots too, but it's often better masked by a pretty face and DirectX 14.3 ShaderPixels and fluid simulation.

If open-source software was a boss for a video game, the flashing red 'weak point' would be... video games. Will there ever be a world where only non-commercial software is used? I don't think so. Things are worth what people are willing to pay, and people are willing to pay for good games. But I think of the open-source gaming situation as a bonus more than I think of it as an industry in and of itself. 'Linux also has games!', rather than 'Gaming on Linux sucks.' One of the first things I do when customizing a new Linux install is remove the games that come with it.

All of which are better than the games Windows comes with.

I think I'm dumb, maybe just happy...

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

As anyone who reads xkcd knows, today is the 10th anniversary of the release of The Matrix, a film so far ahead of its time that it still seems fresh and amazing today, unlike other dystopia-type movies that I won't name here. The movie itself was engaging, hyper-violent, well-written, but it was the special effects that changed moviedom forever. Like Jurassic Park before it, here was an application of new technologies that not only showed that certain special effects could be done, but spawned entire movies based on those special effects. In other words, it wasn't just the Special Effects houses that the movie affected with the new style, but the entire industry from top to bottom.

It's hard to believe it's been 10 years. I went to see it on opening day, at about 12:30 or so in the afternoon for a matinee showing. As proof that anyone who had any sense of what the Matrix was about had no hand in the previews, the trailer showed a fairly run-of-the-mill action film, like any starring Vin Diesel or Jason Stratham. But we were bored and, since my school wrapped up at 11 at the time, as did Graham's, we decided to go see it. I remember standing in a sea of middle-school girls waiting to buy tickets, both of us towering over them so much that our view of the ticket booth was completely unobstructed. When asked by one particularly precocious preteen what we were even doing there, one of us (I honestly don't remember which, and it really doesn't matter, because this is the sort of thing each of us were thinking and equally likely to say) replied in the most sarcastic voice we could summon "OoOooh, we're here to see Ten Things I Hate About Yooouuuuouuu". A testiment to their naivete: she seemed surprised and said, "oh. Us too", as if there were any doubt.

We had the theater completely to ourselves. Literally the first showing of the Matrix we could have gotten our hands on and the theater was ours. Five minutes into the admittedly "hooking" starting sequence, we looked at each other, grinning like idiots, having run out of words to describe our joy, and thumbs with which to point up.

If you're reading this, Graham, I'll never forget that.

On a more somber note, today is also the 15th anniversary of the discovery of Kurt Cobain's body. Most Seattleites were affected by Cobain, whether they liked it or not, and the news of his death was startling and sad. He had such a broad range of sadness that showed in his lyrics and music that any kid listening to Nirvana could claim to identify with him, from the shy loners to the disaffected, entitled Rich Kids, as he could, in turn, identify with each of them.

Just a few months earlier, at the end of November, he had recorded Unplugged In New York, singing his own songs, as well as a few of his own favorites. The raw feed of the show is amazing, and well worth your time if you can get your hands on it. No, it sounds like crap, but that's what the CD is for. The footage shows Kurt playing with his idols, Cris and Curt Kirkwood of the Meat Puppets, and making his typical self-depreciating jokes (He balked at the idea of playing Polly after Dumb, as he incredulously admitted "they're the same song!") in between songs.

The CD was released after his death, the label waiting out of respect, nearly a year after recording. Even if you're not a Nirvana fan, it's worth listening to at least a couple times. It shows a tremendous depth and range that shows why bands like Matchbox 20 can really only ever try to emulate the aptly-named Nirvana, reaching only the foothills.

Cobain was 27 years old when he shot himself, the same age I am now, and it's hard for me to undersand why he did what he did, while at the same time being a no-brainer. He joins other musical luminaries, like Jimi Hendrix, Brian Jones and Janis Joplin, together forming what people call the 27 Club. I know I'll never be as accomplished as Cobain, who with Nirvana released 4 albums, and certainly not as accomplished as he could be, today, at 42. I feel the same way about Buddy Holly, who was famous, and then famous for dying young, at 22 years of age. It's somewhat depressing to think about how much these folks accomplished in that time (and for me, especially Cobain, being the only one who worked and died in my lifetime), but it isn't nearly as depressing as the fact that Cobain, one of the most famous musicians in the world, target for local paparazzi, an icon for garage bands everywhere, and a founder of a genre so popular its influence is still seen today, 20 years later (take that, Disco!) wasn't discovered for 3 days, having killed himself April 5th.

I could take the easy route here and do a musical tribute with "All Apologies", a song many feel to be a pre-emptive suicide note, but I think I'll choose to comment on the solidarity within the rock community of the early 90s (the spoon necklace Chris Cornell wears in the video for Black Hole Sun was famously made for him by Shannon Hoon of Blind Melon, who died at 28, prompting Cornell to stop wearing it) by posting this song, written by Jerry Cantrell of Alice in Chains, from his 1998 album Boggy Depot as a tribute to Cobain.

I'm reminded of the time Graham and I saw Dark City together. His reaction: "Unprecedented coolness for just five dollars!"

The Matrix is a good reminder to those of us who would bemoan the ostensibly early cancellation of a series (many of which can be found in this bizarrely comprehensive list, under the section "formerly broadcast by Fox") that sometimes, one is enough.

Oddly enough, I was thinking that in re: Kurt Cobain, I'm somewhat ashamed to say. I'm not a huge fan of Incesticide, but I can't help thinking that had he continued to make albums, they might likely get progressively worse.

Well, at least it wasn't as bad as the April Fool's Joke Album announced by NIN. Yeesh.

You know, that was a weird experience. I totally believed it, but that suggests the joke was on him.

Sometimes it's more fun to deliberately misinterpret vanity license plates.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Seen on the highway recently: License plate MYPMKIN.

My thought: It's always nice to see a dedicated film lover. And who could argue with the brilliance of Sergei Eisenstein's 1925 silent classic The Battleship Potemkin?

My Potemkin, indeed.

I read it at first as "My Pikmin". Must... stop.. playing... wii...

Actual Considered Names of Dwarves in "Snow White"

Gabby (HA!)

Wow. Just image how different that movie would have been with Awful, Baldy, Burpy, Chesty, Sleazy, Tipsy, and Soulful... The mind just reels.

Of course, I can't imagine that it would compare in offensiveness to the censored all-Black parody remake of Snow White released in 1943.

I think without question my favorite is Shifty. I don't know why, or how, but that one makes the whole list so much... more...

For those of you too lazy, here's the youtube for Coal Black. It's not only racist, but also anti-midget!

Three Pop Songs that Are More Depressing Than Most People Think

Monday, April 6, 2009

I think you're headed for a breakdown, so be careful not to show it
You really don't remember, was it something that he said?
Are the voices in your head calling, Gloria?
Gloria, don't you think you're fallin'?
If everybody wants you, why isn't anybody callin'?

Traditional interpetation: Words of caution from a friend to her more reckless compatriot.

More depressing interpretation: Laura Branigan mercilessly taunts her increasing unstable paranoid schizophrenic pal.

Wasting away again in Margaritaville...
But there's booze in the blender,
And soon it will render,
That frozen concoction that helps me hang on.
Yes, some people claim that there's a woman to blame,
And I know it's my own damn fault.

Traditional interpretation: Whoo! Margaritas! Let's drink a lot, brah!

More depressing interpetation: Alcoholic bum drinks himself to death on the beach with fruity girl-drinks.

Escape (The Pina Colada Song)
"I was tired of my lady - we'd been together too long
Like a worn-out recording of a favorite song
So while she lay there sleeping, I read the paper in bed
And in the personal columns there was this letter I read
So I wrote to the paper, took out a personal ad
So I waited with high hopes and she walked in the place
I knew her smile in an instant, I knew the curve of her face
It was my own lovely lady, and she said, "Oh it's you."
Then we laughed for a moment, and I said, "I never knew."

Traditional Interpretation: Oh, isn't that sweet, they were writing to each other the whole time! Awwww...

More Depressing Interpretation: Both of the lamest people in the world, together in a sad, loveless relationship are finally exposed in tawdry infedelities (attempted).

We've spoken about the Pina Colada song before, probably at more length than it deserves, but it just boggles my mind that there could be any positive interpretation about this song. They were both caught red-handed, and no doubt will be hypocritically furious at each other. Is there any way this relationship can last after the final Pina Colada wears off? I find a much more palatable and likely reading of the song indicates that she says "Oh, It's you." with the same tone you'd reserve for being invited to a meeting of the local KKK (after the Kuwanis club's meeting at the Perkins).

As for Margaritaville, another more deserving interpretation involves tetanus, recieved from that unsanitary (as most things in Key West are. I got a pizza there that tasted like it was a mixture of mud and rabies) pop top. Weren't wearing your damn sandals, were you, Jimmy?

I've never heard that Laura "Zap" Branigan song, but it sounds pretty badass.

I'd like to add to your list: Alison, by Roy Orbison, a song I have heard lots of times on Muzak, which can certainly be open to interpretation.

A while ago, my mom and I saw a CD of "Teen Death Songs", presented with absolutely no indication of the subject matter, on one of those kiosks in a gas station with the compilation of Willie Nelson songs no one has ever heard of, and the like. This included: Leader of the Pack (notable for including sound effects of the actual mortal crash), Dead Man's Curve, Two-Hour Honeymoon, (All I Have Left is) My Johnny's Hubcap, Terry ("One day he'll know how hard I prayed for him to live...."), The Water was Red (shark attack), Patches, Wildfire (she dies looking for her pony), and last but not least "Timothy", about three miners who, after being trapped in a mine, become 2*1.5 miners.

Totally! I was blown away to find that the brooding, melancholic rock song, bemoaning the death of a teen lover wasn't just an odd outlier in the history of music, it was a whole subgenre. The local independent music radio station played Jody Reynolds' Endless Sleep a while back (considered to be first of the Teen Tragedy Songs). Made me appreciate the deep and endearing weirdness of American Pop Music, and the awesomeness of non-commercial radio.

I have some .nfo for you

Let's talk a little bit about MIME-types. These are embeddable bits of data in a file on the computer that lets the operating system know what sort of file they are. A music file asks to be opened in iTunes, a movie in Mplayer, etc. This is more typically done by the most common operating systems as the extension, that three-character (usually) jobbie after the . in the filename. People use the extension because they've always used the extension. DOS required an extension because that system had no idea what MIME was. Macs also rely on the extension, which is strange to me, considering that they are based on a modified BSD kernel and subsequently UNIX, which doesn't rely AT ALL on extensions. In fact, POSIX-compliant systems, like UNIX and Linux, as well as BSD will gladly open anything as plain text. It expects you to know what type the file is, for the most part, and Desktop Environments like Gnome and KDE basically tack on extension information to go along with MIME-type just as a convenience for the user, so they know what's going to happen when they double-click.

Fair enough. Extensions aren't the bees-knees and neither are MIME-types. Each system picked their desired way of doing this, and stuck with it, though they all somewhat support the alternate system as well.

So here's my beef: .nfo files.

Someone, somewhere back in the 8.3 days of DOS, decided that a "cool" way to give out "info" would be to rename a simple text file so that the extension was .nfo, indicating that the text file contained information, unlike other text documents which contained odors. Back then, it didn't really matter. You didn't or couldn't double-click on something. If you wanted to read a document 'edit lnchcods.txt' was the same as 'edit lnchcods.nfo'. Same number of characters, same difference. The problem is that people still use it. This is ridiculous, as on the three main systems, all of which I use, it's a big bag of fail to have to modify the name or extension of a file before reading it, remembering that it's a PLAINTEXT document.

On OS X, .nfo has the unknown type icon, so when you double-click it goes "whoa whoa... we don't know what to do with this. It's clearly plaintext, but we'll try to open it in iTunes, since that's what we do with everything". And don't even think about Quicklook. So you have to click on the file, hit Enter, and since OS X helpfully highlights the name of the file, but not the extension, move the cursor to the end, remove the .nfo and add .txt. Then OS X asks you if you REALLY want to change the extension. Of COURSE I do, because you didn't even know what to DO with the .nfo ANYway. All this comes with one very big assumption to begin with - that you have file extension visibilty turned on. Power users will. Regular users will be double-clicking that README file for eternity.

Think it's any better on Windows? Of course not. I started with OS X because it's more elegant than the other OSes. Windows decided that the .nfo extension would be perfect to use for its completely useless msinfo32.exe, a program which helpfully pops up when clicking on a .nfo file, and immediately locks your system while it checks out the hardware and software specs of your current computer. Has anyone ever saved a computer's specs and then opened it on ANOTHER computer with the friendly .nfo exchange format? No. I guarantee you that all 330,000 times msinfo32 was loaded in the past year, every single one was from someone wanting to see what the password to a zip file was. So, repeat the above steps for OS X, except replace Enter with F2. Annoying.

Ah, linux. You're supposed to do text files right. But just like with all linux issues, this sometimes works and sometimes doesn't. On my Openbox system, it Just Works. On my Gnome system, a Dialog pops up that has the following options: Display, Run, Run in Terminal, Cancel. If you want to see what the file contains, which would you choose? Display or Run? A lot of people might not know that in linux, any file type can be executed with the right flag, but to them, "Running" a text file means opening it for editing. But at least I don't have to change the extension to do it, once I know that "display" is the one for me.

This problem affects nearly no one, but it's large enough that there are several programs out there to open .nfo files. What? Why?? Literally every operating system has a text editor, including VM hypervisors. (The OS X software listed on the Wikipedia page is, hilariously, the end result of Apple's own Getting Started in Cocoa/XCode document with a different title.)

So here's a thought, hax0rs. Make all those problems obsolete by abandoning your own attempt at making text-files purposefully unviewable and just use .txt like it's meant to be used. It will open, viewable as intended, on every computer that tries it! You've already put so much effort into zipping individual .rar files and then .rar-ing the zips together, and making beautiful ascii art for some reason. Why not let us easily actually see it?

Oh, man, preach on. Mimes? I hate those creepy dudes. Oh, wait.

MAME? Well, I do like playing those old-style arcade games. Not that either?

Meme? Well, that's cool. Truth be told, I never quite understood why somebody found the need to coin a whole new word and set of words to mean... Idea. /shrug

Okay, that's about all the mileage I could wring out of that gag. In all seriousness, Mac users are sitting pretty in terms of filetypes compared to the bad old days of pre-OS X. Back then, the Macintosh operating system had a completely different way of determining file types, which depended on resources stuck in a backwater part of the file data called the "Resource Fork." That's all well and good, and it meant that old Macs didn't have file extensions, but it also had the unfortunate side effect of making Mac files unusable by other operating systems. In fact, if you moved a file through a UNIX server (say, via FTP), it would destroy the resource fork and make the file permanently unusable by any operating system.

I'm glad I read past all the gags to get to the Mac history part. I'm retroactively and smugly chuckling at all those losers who had pre-OS X Macs. Win95 4-ever.