Archive for December, 2002

poem for the new year

fast approaching,
this gregorian exit wound

a distant thunderous applause,
curtains for this itchy trigger-finger year

passing like the titanic sinking through my bowels
(perhaps it’s viral)

my head encrusted
with nose-jewels and sinus-clinging glistening ponds,

a reflected treasure trove
dying to see the light of blog

novels, anyone?

I didn’t finish my novel this year, but over at the National Novel Writing Month website there are literally a couple of thousand people who did. And they did it in one month.

OK, so 2,000 words per day, for 25 days = a 50,000 word novel. I can do that! It’s just that, when I do my best writing, it tends to come out in 250 to 500 word chunks. That’s four to eight of those a day. We’re talking serious writing time. But I can still do it! (I must have serious motivational issues to be even considering this silly contest where everyone who finishes 50,000 words of crap is a “winner”.)

In other news, I’ve been working on an about page, with lots of juicy-cool MT plugins to create cool stats and word counts. I’m even considering my own MT plugin (a variation on a theme). I’ll keep you posted (HA!), but I doubt I’ll finish the page today, it being the last day of the year and all that.

moblogging + vlogging = movlogging

Let me just preface this post by saying: I’ve always wanted to be a cyborg.

Laura has recently been shopping for a PDA. And in the process of trying to figure out which one best suits her needs, I’ve been tempted by the dark side. I’ve started coveting the PDAs that are not at all what she needs, but rather are the latest and greatest on the PDA market.

What could I possibly use a PDA for? (particularly one of the higher-end, color, internet connected PDAs?) why, moblogging, of course. Thus, without further ado, I link for you Joi Ito’s Moblogging, Blogmapping and Moblogmapping related resources as of 12/28/2002 17:44.

I would SO like to be able to blog from anywhere, anytime, by simply pulling something out of my pocket. (Not even going to mention the millions of times I’ve been away from a computer and wanted to look something up on google.) I found out yesterday that this kind of constant wireless connection will only set you back $10/month from palm. Of course, I’d want a really nice PDA to go with my nice connection… which amounts to at least half of a 2 week salary. I’m still debating. I’ve never really been convinced a PDA is the way to go before. I mean, data entry on those things sucks ass… (I’ve tried it!) so I’m sure I’d want to get one of those fold-up keyboards… and now we’re talking about carrying around a souped-down laptop with a tiny monitor and lousy input devices. Like I said, I’m still debating.

I found the above link while surfing around on Anil Dash’s blog, which is great and also led me to Short Fuse‘s entry on vlogging.

Blogging from anywhere is technologically (if not quite economically) practical, but how far are we from the day when video-blogs are all the rage? Personally, I don’t think it’s that far off. I’ve talked before about how I think real-tv and blogs have some of the same appeal, (maybe not well, but I’ve mentioned it), and I can easily picture thousands of websites with blogged cam entries. Blogs are what webcams were made for! But screw filming yourself (as with the traditional webcam), I think it’s going to really get interesting when you can combine the two blog-terms above and vlog from anywhere. When you can walk around and mumble quietly to yourself about your day, then post it to the internet minutes later, that’ll be the day! Damn, I want to movlog!

(blogterms? blogisms? I really wanted to coin a new phrase here for words made up from the word blog — but I’m sure someone has already beat me to it. I’ll google for it tomorrow, when I’m not so tired.)

S.C.U.B.A. insanity

On friday, we finally went to the scuba shop Laura’s mom works at, and dove in the pool they have for training. It was incredibly fun, and I especially liked playing catch underwater with the missile-shaped toy they have for that purpose. This made both Laura and I want to get SCUBA certified, but that can take weeks, and is probably quite expensive. (of course if we lived in Texas, near Laura’s mom, we’d have it done in no time, and it’d probably cost next to nothing.) I’ll add it to my list of hobbies I’d take up if we were super-rich, and had infinite free time. (Other items on that list: paintball, rock climbing, and skydiving.)

The plane back to MN was not as crowded as the plane before x-mas, and despite a short hitch at baggage claim everything went fairly smoothly. They did search one of our bags on the texas end, but that went fairly smoothly too.

Laura and I spent all day today shopping. We made a list and everything, but my #1 desire was not at any of the stores we went looking for it at. I really wanted to find Super Bubble Pop, which is this new puzzle game for the gamecube, but it was only released on the 20th, and nobody has it yet. I ordered it from amazon just now.

I’ve been talking about starting a website devoted to puzzle games for quite a while now… if anybody reading this knows of one, let me know. My only hang-up is that I’d really like to have screenshots of all the games, (in addition to reviews, and ratings and stuff like that), but I have no TV-to-PC connection capabilities at the moment. I suppose I could just link to a site like GameScreenshots.com, but I’d have to be sure they have the games I’m reviewing, and with many puzzle games, that’s not always the case.

Of course, what I’d really like to do is make my own… *sigh* Well, I’m off to play metroid prime for the first time in like a week. (after I eat Laura’s fabulous dinner.)

christmas like a freight train

The holiday is over, at least, technically. (I have yet to exchange gifts with my immediate family because I’m out of town, and because I wasn’t finished shopping before I left town.)

I haven’t seen much of Houston while I’ve been here.

I’m sure there are good aspects to this city, but so far it’s felt like one giant suburb. It doesn’t help that I’m literally in a suburb, and a posh burbclave-type one at that!

I did get to see NASA today. I was thoroughly unimpressed. It was not even as cool as our lovely Science Museum of MN. In fact, I’m sure I’ve learned more about NASA from that science museum than I did from my trip this afternoon.

There were a couple of cool aspects, I guess. One of them was actually seeing some of the big stuff in person. (An Apollo rocket, I think, specifically.) Otherwise, I couldn’t believe how little information they managed to pack into our hour-long tour of the “Historic” Mission Control room. I guess I did learn one or two factoids, (for instance, did you know you dehydrate in zero-g? how about that it’s harder to taste without gravity? weird, huh?) but overall, it was unenlightening. I think they should have had two entrances. The one that I went through, (obviously for tourists and people with mild interest, but no real desire to learn about NASA), and the “other” entrance, the one where you go on cool tours that actually give you dates and figures and stats, and where they show you more than one tiny room, and the pre-recorded tour guide doesn’t sound like it’s talking to a kindergartener.

Anyway, I did enjoy myself just the same.

The trip has been great, overall. Laura’s family is generous and caring. I got a bunch of gifts, which I wasn’t really expecting, and I think Laura and I did a good job of getting everyone stuff that they liked.

Unfortunately, I’ve come down with some kind of nose and throat cold. It seems to be getting better, slowly. I hope I’m feeling better tomorrow, because SCUBA diving will be more enjoyable if I can breathe.

I’m pretty far through Metroid Fusion. It’s only just the last time I played that I got to a part that I couldn’t beat after trying it a couple of times. (I only spent 15 minutes banging my head against this one part… and I’ve already got some new ideas on how to get through it.)

Laura’s dad gave one of her sister’s his old Gameboy color, complete with a couple of puzzle games. Klaxx, which is an old fun one I remember from the arcade (and more recently MAME), and a weird tetris-like variant that I’ve never even seen before, called Ballistic. I’m definitely going to have to try and find Ballistic. It’s different enough that I’m considering it a must-have on my quest to own all types and variety of console puzzle games. (oooh, and a quick search reveals that it was also released for the PSX!)

Well, enough for now. They have DSL, but what with all the hectic lazinessÂ… it hardly matters.

stumbling down to texas for x-mas

Laura and I are going to visit her parents in Texas. I’m excited about this trip for a couple of reasons… SCUBA and NASA. Two acronyms I’ve always wanted to try. One I can remember what it stands for, one I cannot. One I will get to try this weekend, (and one I will only get to see). I guess it doesn’t make all that much sense to try NASA (although it does sound like some kind of new ad campaign), but it would be fun, wouldn’t it!?

I bought the gameboy Metroid Fusion just for the trip, so I won’t be going entirely cold-metroid-turkey. Just in case I haven’t mentioned this lately, Metroid Prime is one of the greatest games of all time. I have now played it for over twice as long as Nate has (I started first), but I’m only about 5 or 10 percent farther along than he is (I think I’m at about fifty-percent).

So who knows if I’ll update in the next week… I certainly have no idea what to expect. Laura thinks they might have DSL. I’m sure you can expect a full report when I return. I just hope things stay fairly secular. I haven’t really thought about what I’d do if they wanted me to go to church. They’re mormon after all… wish me luck!

me as idiot-s[avant]

Today’s browser discovery is the Avant Browser. It’s a browser that basically puts a shell over IE for windows, giving it many of Mozilla’s most beloved properties. (tabbed browsing, searching from the address bar, and popup blocking, to start with.) I have a few beefs with the thing. To search using google (msnsearch is the default) you have to hit CTR-Q from the address bar. This makes little sense as a shortcut, but since CTR-Q doesn’t quit much of anything anymore, I suppose it had to do something… But unfortunately, one of my favorite mozilla for PC features, hitting CTR-L to get to the address (or Location) bar as you have always been able to do on a mac, doesn’t work. And so you can’t search google from the stupid little location popup window that IE has always had when you hit CTR-L.

I also really like some things about it. Well, two things about it so far. The way that this thing handles your tabs and windows is pretty amazing. (You loose the ability to open a new “window”, and “tabs” for all intents and purposes are referred to as “windows”. Maybe I’ll get over that, even though I can’t–as I expected–open a new process to open a new traditional “window”.)

Basically, you have several window displaying options. The default, and the one familiar to mozilla users, is all windows maximized. (You can also “tab through” windows, by hitting CTR-up and CTR-down, which is one of those hit and miss features in mozilla… it works, but is relatively undocumented, and I always forget the shortcut, even though it seems like one of the most important ones!) But you also have the traditional cascading window option… which basically means you get the grey application background-type-thing, and can move windows around within it. Here’s where it gets cool: There are also window tiling options, vertical and horizontal. This will basically fill your avant window with your open pages, either horizontally or vertically. I don’t know how often I will use this, but it’s really cool, and I’ll definitely be playing with it more soon.

Next feature I like… You can save your state and close all windows. This will basically mean the next time you open Avant it’ll re-open all the windows you had open previously… I’m going to be checking in a few minutes if this will refresh the windows, or just save them in cache. For blog-reading reasons, I’d rather have it refresh them, but it might make more sense to hold the state in cache. Anyway, I’m definitely throwing this thing on my PC at home… especially because the new version of mozilla (1.3a) is crashing like crazy on that machine… it’s so bad I may even downgrade.

(Link via http://www.milbertus.com/.)

UPDATE: It refreshes! It refreshes!

SECOND UPDATE: this tiling thing is less cool than it seems at first. Perhaps I spoke too soon. Basically, if tiles based on how many windows (tabs) you have open. With two or three, you can tile vertically or horizontally, but anything more than that, and it starts doing its own thing. With 4 windows, it splits into equal sized quadrants, whether you chose vertical or horizontal. Also, I can’t CTR-down through the tabs that are displayed and then use the arrow keys to scroll within the tab. I can use CTR-down to focus the window, (er, tab?) but scrolling doesn’t work till I use the mouse to click implicitly in the window itself. Hmmm. I wonder if it’s worth posting this on the message board.

life as I know it

Well, no apologies for lack of updates, but here’s a quick rant on life this past week.

Monday — car failure. Two hours, I waited on the side of the road, talking on the phone, trying to figure out whether I needed a tow truck, and where I should have the eventual tow truck take my car to be repaired.

Tuesday I took the fix-it-place my key, (since they were closed the night before — when my car arrived magically in their lot), and I worked from home. Far from being fun, working from home is actually more frustrating than anything else for me, because we have crappy firewall issues, and shitty exchange webmail. Fortunately, I have been doing some php all week, and ssh-ing into the dev server to work there wasn’t too horrible. Plus, PHP is fun!

Wednesday, worked from home again, which meant that when I finished up my php project sooner than expected I just walked out my front door. I spent the afternoon doing some nearly-overdue Christmas shopping. I am especially proud of what I got Laura. And as she loves to point out, I am constantly on the verge of ruining her surprise — I just want her to share my excitement! (I am not, as coined for me Monday night in the movie Vanilla Sky, a pleasure delayer.)

I also picked up my car on Wed, and am $350 poorer for it. This brings my total car expenditure up to $1100. $1200 if you include the tow. That’s still not bad, really. Unfortunately, when I drove to work this morning, the crack in my windshield was longer than it had been the night before. (And I know it didn’t lengthen while it was at the shop, because I was thinking about its length after I picked it up.) The increase is probably just because it froze last night for the first time in ages. Who knows when that expense will come to visit.

In a few minutes, I’m going to post another rant, about this new version of IE I’ve just discovered.

open letters to bush

I haven’t kept up on my blog reading lately. I feel rather bad about it, actually. This morning I went through and read Naked Tiny back to the last time I’d been on his site, and there were a number of political posts that I wholeheartedly agree with, including a letter to our dumbass president.

This got me thinking that maybe we should all write public (open) letters to Bush. I imagined this flood of dissent… A veritable barrage of websites protesting, not loudly, but quietly, questioningly.

Then I remembered that I’d seen one of these before. A while back mopsa posted a link to Sean Penn’s Open Letter to George W. Bush.

I did a few google searches… and realized slowly that this sort of thing is fairly common. There are about 382,000 results for “open letter to president bush”. Someday, maybe I’ll add my voice to the chorus, until then, I’m with Tiny.

crouching tiger, hidden blog

This article about p2p file sharing by Tim O’Reilly is awesome. It’s really good to hear that at least someone in the publishing industry has their head screwed on right.

After spending a day digesting the article (most of my readers will have already read the thing, as it was sent to a group of us), I’m left with the thought that this blog is suffering from Lesson #1. “Obscurity is a far greater threat to authors and creative artists than piracy.”

It’s true, I don’t promote this blog (or any of my websites, really,) and therefore, it sits in the vast void that is obscurity on the internet.

Generally speaking, I’m opposed to self-promotion. I want someone else to get excited about stuff without my pushing them to do so. Hell, now that I think about it, I don’t want anyone pushing them to do so. I’m opposed to promotion in general.

An article in the recent adbusters had something in it about a growing dissatisfaction with the concept of advertising. I’ll have to read it again when I get home, but it was basically saying we’re going to begin to see people consciously curbing the influence of advertising on their own behavior. I think that happens already for many of us, but is it really on the rise? And if this does happen, will it be just like the 90s, when “alternative” music becomes popular because it wasn’t popular in the first place? Are we that similarly wired, that if everyone had free reign to choose anything, we would end up with all pretty much the same stuff… whether it’s musical selection, food options, or clothing style?

I think it’s impossible to answer these questions, and I’ve rambled enough about this. This blog is obscure like indie electronica. It’s my garage band. It’s the movie that Nate and I will someday make to show the world our genius. Thanks for reading it, both of you.