Monday, February 28, 2005

This post brought to you by the late Dr. Atkins

Safeway sells low-carb pears. What the hell. Makes no damned sense.

One of my friends actually had the nerve to suggest that I was unavailable for playing World of Warcraft for two consecutive days. I told him that he was a filthy liar. I don't know where people get off spewing such awful things, but it makes me sick.


I just thought I'd let you guys know about It's a pretty cool site. As long as you start your shopping there, they cut you in on their referral bonuses. For example, if gives them an 8% commission on sales, they'll give you 6% of that. I've been using it for half a year or so for a couple sites, and I've made a good fifty bucks from it (I've already gotten my first check, so it's legit :). They also keep track of the various coupons and specials that the site offers and pop them up in a little window when they launch the site.

Meetings can be fun

(Background: Harley is my manager's manager.)

Harley: Hey. Hey! Are you passing notes during the meeting?
Phil: Ummm... maybe?
Harley: Is this something you want to share with the class?
Phil: Not really.
Harley: All notes need to be in the language of the class. No English.
Phil: So, C++, then. Like, for i = 1, this meeting sucks...
Harley: Exactly. I would also accept C# for full credit.

On vegetable drinks

Sometimes I try things that I've avoided for many, many years just to see if I still hate them. I'm happy to announce that V8 is still totally undrinkable. (I'm referring to regular V8, not that tolerable and fruity V8 Splash.)

Dreams, my content standby

I haven't been able to remember my dreams lately; I've just remembered a couple key things from them when I've awakened for the past couple weeks. A couple nights ago I dreamed about someone here in Washington, which usually doesn't happen (my dreams have mostly involved anonymous people or people—usually family members—from Nebraska). Last night, I know that, at some point in my dream, I was trying to purchase my hair glue, but couldn't find it at the store. But that's not the sad part. The sad part is that I know I've dreamed about that at least two more times in the past week or two.

I should watch more movies

I guess I pretty much missed out on last year. The only movie that won an Oscar this year that I have seen is Spider-Man 2, which I saw on opening day. I definitely want to see Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, though.

Sunday, February 27, 2005

Snapple real fact #101

The caps of Snapple bottles each have a "real fact" on them. This bottle had #101:
About half of all Americans are on a diet on any given day.

How to convey unprofessionalism

You know those little cards that sometimes blind and deaf people hand out at airports and grocery stores? They say "I am blind/deaf and cannot work. Please buy this card for $2" or something similar. Usually, on one side, they have that message and scripture, and the other side contains brain teasers if the person is deaf and a Braille reference if the person is blind. (That's a lot of generalizations based on the few times I've seen these cards, but let's move on.)

That would be a great design for a business card. Maybe they could say something like, "I was fired for incompetence and cannot work. Please buy this card for $2 or hire me." I think that, for it to work, you'd have to have the brain teasers or Braille reference on the back, because it's going to be enough of a stretch to figure out your joke.

Another possibility is to just print up a sheet of 12 different business cards. Then, each person you give one to would get something exciting and fresh, or you could tailor the card to the person you're giving it to. Some people might think the "hahaha, make fun of jobless blind and deaf people" card was hilarious, but for others, the "Travis Spomer: Trained Assassin" cards might be more appropriate.

And then, of course, there's the simple and effective:

Level 43 Night Elf Druid

I bet there are people who would interview you if you sent them a résumé with just World of Warcraft character stats listed and no actual job qualifications. If you don't want to go overboard, you could just add "Casino Operator, Ironforge, January 2005 - February 2005. Reason for leaving: Casinos banned by Blizzard." to your list of past employment for a hint of nerd humor. This might be good for, say, a tech job. Not for, say, a dentist's office. Though, my old dentist in Lincoln is probably playing World of Warcraft a lot right now, based on how much he told me about his Neverwinter Nights character.

Funny how all of my posts seem to find their way to Warcraft. It's unhealthy.

It's a good thing

Having an empty inbox is a beautiful thing. I have a new goal (which I expect to last up to a couple days) of keeping my personal inbox empty, my work inbox at five items or less, and not letting dishes stay in the sink or on the counter overnight. Let's see how quickly I give up / forget.

Friday, February 25, 2005

Seven hours of sleep!

Last night I was in bed by 1:00 for the first timee in a looooooooong time.


Our team went to play Whirlyball today as a morale / teambuilding event. It was pretty fun. It was a fairly typical team sport, except played in bumper cars. Not just any bumper cars, but what might be the most difficult-to-control bumper cars I've ever seen. Instead of a steering wheel, these cars had a maddening hand crank. A full 360-degree turn turned the car around 180 degrees. This had the unfortunate side effect that sometimes, turning the crank clockwise would turn you clockwise, and sometimes it would turn you counter-clockwise, depending on which way you turned it last. I sort of got the hang of it by my third of four games. Anyway, our team managed a stellar sixth place out of six teams, thanks mostly to our complete inability to throw the ball using the bizarre scoop apparatus into the goal. I was the "bump the other team out of the way so they get so frustrated that they throw the ball from impossibly far distances" guy, a job I performed decently enough when I managed to successfully control the car, thanks to my... momentum.

Anyway, cool stuff. You're probably never going to have the opportunity to play it, as it's only available in a few states. So, you're just going to have to take my word that it was fun.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

At least I'm not the only one who's awkward

"L" and I were the only ones who were on time for a particular meeting today. "L" had just returned from spending a few days with his family after his father's untimely death. I thought about mentioning it, but decided the potential for communications failure was worse than just sitting in silence, so we did just that. Then, "A" came in, followed shortly by "B." After that, the four of us sat in silence for thirty seconds or so.

A: Oh, my... condolences. ...Yeah.
L: Uh, thank you.
B: Oh, yeah, me too.
L: (smiles uncomfortably)

I certainly could have topped that had I tried...

That reminds me: I don't actually remember if my last great-grandmother is still alive or not. I don't think so. I think she died of lung cancer a couple years back. But maybe she lived through it. I don't actually remember how that all turned out. Needless to say, we weren't that close. She lives/d in Louisiana or Mississippi; one of those uninhabitable states.

hay its msn k thx

I forgot all about the one stand-out odd thing that happened this morning (I guess it's yesterday at this point): I was awakened by MSN. At 7:00 I got a phone message from MSN (I think I signed up for some kind of IM forwarding long ago; that's how they have my phone number) that just had some kind of status code in it. Like, "UPDATE: 2ef2920b." And that was it. Then, again, at 7:30, I got another phone message from MSN with the text "SORRY!". It was most peculiar. I really wish I wouldn't have immediately deleted the messages, but I wasn't exactly functioning within normal parameters at 7:00 in the morning after having been awakened by a vibrating phone.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005


I just saw the most revolting sight... and those of you who know me know that I'm not easily disturbed. A large man was just walking towards me. The bottom of his obviously-undersized T-shirt matched the top of his pants almost exactly. But, there was about an inch and a half of stomach that fell below the bottom of his shirt, leaving a visible lip of fat in front. I don't normally find the human body unpleasant, even on really ugly people, but this clash of fat and fashionless was just too much. I vomited everywhere.

Well, okay, that last part didn't happen.

Also today was the first time (as far as I can remember) that I felt like Shadowmelding in the hallway. (The Night Elves in Warcraft can Shadowmeld, which makes them invisible when not moving as long as it's nighttime. In World of Warcraft, they can do it during the day as well.) This infiltration of my thoughts happened almost immediately in Doom 3, yet I'm much more obsessed with World of Warcraft than I was Doom. I wonder why this desire to Shadowmeld didn't happen sooner.

When I wake you wake we wake

When I get up, I immediately turn on my computer and my receiver/speakers. Once I log in, I start Winamp, and then go take a shower. I always feel bad when I set a volume that's too high and there's nothing I can do about it for fifteen minutes. (I hope that the bass volume isn't any higher upstairs than it is in my shower twenty or so feet away...) Of course, the logical solution is to not start Winamp until I'm out of the shower, but then what am I going to listen to when I'm drying off?

Monday, February 21, 2005


I find it unsettling that people are still downloading and using the software I created to build help files for Windows 95. Windows 95-style help files have been obsolete for seven years, and yet some people in the world are still actively seeking out software to create them. That makes me sad.

Look, ma, infrastructure!

If things go as planned, FrontPage 12 will ship with a total of five feature areas that I developed, and all of them will basically just be infrastructure. That's kind of disheartening. I'd rather be able to say "I made this" than "I made this other thing work." But, users will get a lot of value out of them, and they're still good features, so it's okay, I guess.

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Oh yeah, I love that

It's always fun to remember that you really, really like something. Like, for example, I had kind of forgotten that I love pears. Pears are probably my favorite fruit (assuming you don't count raspberries as a fruit), yet I had completely forgotten that they exist, and come in convenient metal pull-top cans. This is way healthier than that time that I remembered how much I love Reese's peanut butter cups.

Which reminds me: I need to find a place out here that can serve as a reasonable substitute for The Oven.


I kind of want to know what my upstairs neighbors are building in the kitchen. Whatever it is, it's loud, and they've been working on it for a while. I don't think it's a fetus, because that happens from the room above my computer, and it's a different, distinct rhythm. If it is, I hope they have lots of Lysol laying around.

Saturday, February 19, 2005

Raising Victor Vargas

Along with my Donnie Darko director's cut was Raising Victor Vargas, a movie that keeps recommending for me, and seemed to be reviewed pretty well. (It got a near-perfect rating on Rotten Tomatoes.) I watched it tonight, and it's a pretty good movie. I'd probably give it about a 7.5/10, which is about the highest rating I can give a movie with no real ending. The movie follows a week or so in the life of a horny teenager in New York; it's honest, intriguing, and natural-seeming. What it's not about was poverty, crime, sex, and drugs, which was pretty refreshing for a movie in an urban setting. It's worth seeing.

Donnie Darko Director's Cut

The original cut of Donnie Darko was better than the director's cut. The actual content of the films is almost identical... probably the biggest difference story-wise is the reincorporation of a scene with the psychiatrist regarding Donnie's medication that was in the special features on the original DVD. The director's cut also features somewhat different music and improved sound effects and editing. But, the biggest change to the film overall is what I disliked the most. All throughout the movie, between the different "chapters," they would show a few lines from The Philosophy of Time Travel. For example, right before the "pan over all of the important characters" scene at the end of the movie, they explain that the Manipulated Living awake from their experience in the Tangent Universe haunted, but generally not remembering their experience. Was that really necessary? Couldn't we have figured that out from the expressions on their faces and the emotion in the scene itself? There are several times when these little bits of text seem like they would have given away part of the story too early to someone who hadn't seen the original version already. But, whatever. The other change that I didn't like is that is that several scenes were added featuring a giant eye with pictures and unrecognizable codes flashing and scrolling by. I don't know why they were added... to make it more mysterious? To make it more sci-fi-ey? A pointless addition.

There's no compelling reason to watch the director's cut, especially if you haven't seen the movie before. Stick with the original cut, which is one of my favorite movies ever. Then, watch the deleted scenes. Then, either browse through the Philosophy of Time Travel in the special features and watch the original again, or watch the director's cut. (If you go this route, at least the relevant sections of The Philosophy of Time Travel are highlighted for the scene you're about to watch, which makes it easier if you don't want to read through the whole thing on your TV/monitor.)

It's not as bad as if The Sixth Sense had a director's cut that told you about the big secret a third of the way through the movie, but it's still a bit annoying.

No need to thank me for sharing

Man, I don't know why my tongue started bleeding, but once it started, that thing sure didn't mess around. I guess I must have scratched off a tastebud or something while I was flossing. (??)

I'm glad I could brighten your day a little bit with that story.

Friday, February 18, 2005

An epic adventure in railroad economics

Oren: This has been a really long game.
Mike: Nah, we're only, what, like a half hour over normal? That's not bad at all.
Mike: Wait, does that say 9:00 or midnight?

The game was Age of Steam. We started at around 6:30. We ended at midnight. Needless to say, it's a pretty intense, brutal game. I'm not a huge fan of the super-involved games where a single mistake at any point can cost you the game, but for that genre of game, this one's pretty decent. And, hey, I won, just barly edging out Mike, who loves the game and plays it often. It was my first time.

I played the strategy of (1) being very frugal, and (2) trying to avoid getting in situations where I would be in direct conflict with other players. It paid off. I got a lot of advice from the veterans, and followed just about all of it. About half of it was good advice, so I figure things even out in the end.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

No More Enemas Day

Yesterday was No More Enemas Day, and I missed it!

That's such a hilariously weird blog.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005


Fun fact: a Google search for "night elf porn" returns approximately 250 results. That, in and of itself, is mildly interesting. Even more interesting, though, is that they're almost all keyword spam. Some porn site, or software that automatically generates porn sites, thought that "night elf porn" would be a good set of keywords to get people to come to their site.


I assure you that my query was purely academic in nature.

Monday, February 14, 2005

Ugh, sorry

Man, my blog has sucked pretty hard recently. Sorry.

Things not to say on Valentine's Day

Things not to say on Valentine's Day:

  • "I've been saving myself for you, sweetheart. And, by 'you,' I mean the first girl who I could get to have sex with me."
  • "I know you said we wouldn't do anything extravagant this year, but I made this heart-shaped pile of murloc corpses for you anyway. I love you."
  • "You mean we're doing Valentine's this year, too?"

The original plan, of course, was to have several of these. But, I haven't been able to come up with anything else since Saturday, so I just have to post as-is. Stupid internet for destroying my imagination.

I originally had a hot date (hot date, n. — a night of playing World of Warcraft with someone from work), but I was stood up. But, anyway, like any guy on Valentine's day, I'm just hoping for a mount. (Get it? Mount? Warcraft joke... can you tell I'm obsessed?)

Level 40

I've reached level 40 in World of Warcraft. This is a pretty significant event for any character, because it's when you gain the ability to ride a mount, which for me, as a night elf, is a big white tiger. It will be very sweet, once I can afford its exorbitant price.

Maybe this means that I'll be able to turn my attention to more "worthwhile" things. I'd like to think that.

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Very expensive raisins

I don't know what I was thinking. "Gee, February is a great month for grapes! I bet grapes that I buy now will be delicious!" So, I went ahead and paid the six dollars or whatever it costs for a pound of grapes. Boy, was I ever disappointed.

Saturday, February 12, 2005


Here it is, the middle of February, and I've seen a total of about a quarter of an inch of snow. This place is weird.

Friday, February 11, 2005


(Notice I didn't say "ATM machines." This takes quite a bit of conscious effort on my part.)

I just deposited $20 and withdrew $50 from the ATM in our cafeteria. I then went upstairs and opened MS Money, and approved the two transactions. Technology is cool when it works.

Unlikely heritage

Wait a minute... so, if I'm foremost Russian, doesn't that technically make me Asian? (# 2 might be American Indian, or whatever you call the Indian that isn't Asian.) I guess not. I'm only a quarter Asian. That would be fun to tell people, though...

Thursday, February 10, 2005


I think that frost might be the most beautiful, naturally-occurring phenomenon, as opposed to objects, such as flowers or lakes or Halle Berry. I haven't witnessed the northern lights, but I think that frost beats out things like meteor showers and sunsets and eclipses. When it frosts here, it ranges from light and delicate to big and white and fluffy and shiny, probably because of the mild temperatures and all of the overnight rain. And, the grass stays alive even through February, so you get a nice contrast between the bright green and the shiny white. This morning's ride into work was just great.


I just used this sentence in an email. I am very proud of it.
I’ve kept it pretty non-technical, partially because the technical details for some of the WEC/WEL stuff are still so far above my head that I don’t even feel my hair move when I make the “it just went way over my head” gesture.

Wednesday, February 9, 2005

Damn me

I just remembered that I organized a 10:00 am meeting tomorrow, and thus I actually have to get to work at a reasonable hour. (10:00 is probably the average time I show up for work, and a 50% chance at making it in for a meeting I scheduled would probably not be very responsible of me.) I had the power to stop this, and yet I stood back and did nothing. Now I will suffer the consequences.

Air rules!

A week or so I purchased an air tank, and tonight I went to go fill it up. (For being a container that holds air, it gets to be uncomfortably heavy after a while...) Then, I treated Segway to its first weekly-to-monthly tire refill. (Yeah, I was half a year late.) It's amazing how much better it rides on 15.0 PSI compared to 5.5 PSI. It doesn't even make awful noises anymore. I thought the batteries were dying prematurely or I had gained a lot of weight or something. Nope. Just needed to follow the instructions that came with the thing and keep its tires full. I'm such an idiot.

UPDATE: After riding it this morning, I am even more angry that I waited so long. It goes up hills at almost full speed once again now, instead of like 5 mph. The handling is back to the way it was when I first got the thing. (The ride is, unfortunately, a little more bumpy on the horrid sidewalks near my apartment.)

Tuesday, February 8, 2005

I save money on roses

In less than a week it will be my 24th annual Valentine's Day, and much to the upset of my mother, there are no grandchildren in production. This bothers her much more than it does me. Nothing happening on my brother's side of things either; if he has had a girlfriend, it hasn't been for more than a couple weeks, and I tend to think that if you're only with someone for a couple weeks, your status as a couple is kind of retroactively stricken from the record anyway. At least she's got a nephew and a niece to satiate her desires for more children to take care of.

I'll probably spend Valentine's playing Warcraft. Maybe I'll meet some special Night Elf lady in Darnassus and we'll /kiss beneath an Ancient Protector... or at least /flirt. Wouldn't that be romantic?

Monday, February 7, 2005

SNEM seeking NEF

World of Warcraft should have personal ads. That would be hilariously sad.
Single Night Elf Male seeking Night Elf Female. Herbalism a plus. No warriors. Let's group up sometime, and I'll make you a [Nightscape Tunic]. Send mail to Glamredhel.

Making localization easier

"The total is $Dollars."
"The total is $" & Dollars & "."
"The total is " Dollars "." (Fantasy syntax where concatenation requires no operator)

In practice, you probably shouldn't use any kind of shorthand like these, because they're not really localizable. Straight concatenation is out because certain languages will need to have the words rearranged, and the $ syntax is out because you also might not want localizers to be able to include just any old variable in the string, and it doesn't allow you to use expressions unless you start getting really complicated. An interesting idea would be one in which you could make up your own tokens on the fly using dedicated string formatting syntax:

["The total is [Dollars]."; Dollars: Total.AsDollars]

Wouldn't that be a great expression? That would be pretty easy to localize. If the string Dollars were already declared, you could get rid of the ":Total.AsDollars" part. And, if my fantasy language made resources first-class citizens, you could do something like:

[Resources.TotalText; Dollars: Total.AsDollars]

OR, maybe the code could contain one version of the string (for example, English), and then localized strings could be substituted in as necessary. That might get a little too complicated...

[TotalText: "The total is [Dollars]."; Dollars: Total.AsDollars]

I think I'd like that after I got used to it. It's verbose, but something like it would make writing localizable code a lot easier, I think.

Saturday, February 5, 2005


I don't eat as healthy as I should, much like pretty much any other guy who lives by himself. At the very least, I try to get some fruits and vegetables into my diet, but I know I'm not getting as much as the % values say I'm supposed to. I prefer fruits and vegetables fresh, which I only eat occasionally, because I buy groceries on a roughly monthly basis, and fresh things don't stay fresh for a month.

The multivitamin cartel says that I need 100% of these five thousand different essential vitamins and minerals every day. (I wonder what % I'm really getting of some of these.) I'm wondering if I would theoretically be "healthier" if I did get 100% of my vitamins every day. But, I'll probably never know. I just can't take multivitamins. I've tried multiple brands, different times of day, eating them as part of a meal; it doesn't matter: any time I take a multivitamin, I get sick to my stomach and feel like throwing up. I don't even know what it means. I've never had heartburn (as far as I know), I don't get sick to my stomach at amusement parks, and spicy foods don't generally cause me any real discomfort. But, something in those five thousand essential whatevers, in every brand that I've tried, destroys me.

The one thing that I know that I need more of is calcium. You're supposed to have quite a bit of calcium a day, but I'm allergic to milk and milk products. Milk is one of the things that will make me sick, but I can now consume it in moderate doses. I take calcium tablets when I remember, but I rarely remember. Maybe I should be more proactive about taking my vitamins. I don't know.

Crappy appliances

I have a microwave that was donated to me by my parents that is more than twenty years old. It really sucks, but it works well enough that I'm not very motivated to replace it, and besides, I always enjoy the kind of reactions I get when people see it. Last night:

Joe: Wait, is that a microwave?
Me: Yep. Probably close to as old as I am.
Kristen: Does it operate by crank?

Labels, part II

I figured I might make a follow-up to the most boring post I've ever made.

Best DVD labels:
The Lion King (just very attractive)
The Matrix series (basically just the very cool movie posters printed to disc)
The Simpsons series (each season is unique and cool, but not all seasons have the season number printed)
The Star Wars series (attractive, distinct, and easy to read)
The X-Files series (each disc has a scene from a memorable episode, so if you remember an episode but not its name or season number, you can often find it just by browsing)

A special award goes to World of Warcraft for the prettiest discs for anything I've ever bought.

Okay, no more of that. I originally thought about scanning them in and posting them, but that's about ten times more work than it's worth.


The appearance of the human-readable side of a CD is fairly important to me. I don't keep the media for music, movies, games, or applications in their original cases. I keep them in massive black binders for easy access. This means that the appearance of the CD case is less important than the appearance of the actual CD. (In retrospect, since I don't ever really have any reason to dig out a CD once I've bought it, I should probably put them back in the cases and use the binders for something more useful. Perhaps I'll do this when I re-rip all of my music losslessly.) Anyway, I decided I would list my favorite music CDs based on the appearance of the actual disc. (You know, to waste your time.)

Alanis Morissette—Under Rug Swept (cool, stylized picture of Alanis)
Basement Jaxx—Romeo (purple paw wearing bling-bling)
Maroon 5—Songs About Jane (cartoon of Jane; very easy to read)
Newsboys—Adoration (photo taken from under some kind of freeway interchange)
John Williams—Jurassic Park (the unmistakable T-rex logo)

A special lifetime achievement award goes to Amon Tobin for the most consistent series of interesting CD labels. They're distinctive, but all look similar enough that you know right away they're the same artist.

The hall of shame goes to Thievery Corporation. One CD has a blank label and the CD title printed only in the plastic ring in the center. Another CD is all matte white except the title, which is glossy white. You can only read it if you hold it up to the light. And one of their CDs isn't labeled at all. Enya gets the runner-up hall of shame award for her ridiculously boring CDs, most of which are just the Enya logo and a track listing in black.


I had some people over to play games (Bohnanza, Coloretto—it's easier to get people to play card games) tonight. It was fun. Before this, we went to Applebee's, which has a wacky special where you get an appetizer, entrée, and dessert for $13. I had the Southwest Combo. Very delicious. That's about all there is to say about today.

Tomorrow's going to be a bit of World of Warcraft, hopefully. I haven't been playing nearly as much as I'd like. And, probably quite a bit of bug fixing. I don't feel compelled to match the performance of my other teammates, since I've already mentioned how arbitrary and useless managing by bug counts is. But, I do feel bad that I really haven't accomplished much this week. I worked on two hard problems to which the team's veterans couldn't find a solution, and found resolutions for neither.

We recently turned in our mid-year review forms. I decided to be completely honest on mine and say that being a developer on the FrontPage team is not really where I see myself in a couple years. I'd MUCH rather be a designer / program manager than someone who codes all day, especially when that code's in a product with a lot of old code, and especially when that code's in C/C++. I'm quite interested in seeing how that blunt honesty works out when I talk with my manager and possibly my manager's manager about it. Frankness is one of the values that Microsoft managers are supposed to care about... that will work to my advantage, as I'm not big on sugar-coating things. I'm almost glad that nobody asks my opinions on the team's management style, because I wouldn't be able to control myself. I'm talking about people management, not product management—I'm very pleased with the way that the FrontPage product is being managed, but I don't like how I'm being managed, even though I like my managers.

Interestingly, I've at least exchanged words with the entire chain of management above me except Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer, and I've at least stood a few feet away from Bill. My manager's manager's manager has been the CEO of a major company. I've peed next to this person. That's weird.

Thursday, February 3, 2005

Farewell Enterprise

Oh, and in Star Trek-related post #2 for the day, it has now been announced that this is the last season for Enterprise. That's sad. It's a good show, despite, you know, the awful theme song.

Nothing Human

I just finished watching an interesting episode of Star Trek: Voyager, "Nothing Human." In this episode, the life of a Voyager crewmember depends on the research of a man who is revealed to be a war criminal. Essentially, he's the Star Trek equivalent of the Nazi doctors who performed experiments on the concentration camp victims as part of their research. (In "Nothing Human," this research was to search for a cure, not to develop new methods of killing Jews or something that's 100% sinister.) The episode had very little in the way of plot, really (you don't know he's evil at the beginning)—the episode mostly just revolved around the opinions of the different crew members regarding whether or not it was moral to accept a treatment that was developed through torture. In the episode, it boiled down to two sides: the doctor killed thousands to save millions... and potentially one more. To use an accounting term, those peoples' lives are already a sunk cost, right? But, accepting treatment is, in a way, validating the work of a mass murderer. It's an interesting moral dilemma that I never really thought about before.

Anyway, if you want to see how it ends, you can follow the episode synopsis link I provided earlier. But, like a lot of episodes, the plot and the outcome weren't that important, just the issues raised, conveniently oversimplified into 44 minutes. I was entertained.

Generalized hatred

Wow! I found a class of people who I hate more than the people who stand in hallways and have conversations from opposite sites of the hallways and force you to physically push your way through to get past them. This new class of people is those who stand in front of elevator buttons and refuse to get out of the way when they see you stretching behind them to push the button.

Come on; give me your keys

You know what I like most about Comcast? They're always looking out for me. Like, just now; they decided that I had had enough internet access for one day, and cut me off before it was too late and my life was irrevocably enriched by it. Good ol' corporations, always knowing what's best for me.

Wednesday, February 2, 2005

Give me context or give me death

You know what I hate? People who reply to my emails using a different email account, a different subject line, and no email history, and then talk in incomplete sentences as if their original email were a few inches down on the screen. I am consistently shocked at how often this happens. (Always in my personal mail, not at work, thankfully.)

Tuesday, February 1, 2005


Another Microsoft Word post today, by strange coincidence.

I got an email today from an EclipseCrossword user asking how he could include an interactive crossword puzzle in his Word document. Needless to say (well, probably), I was flabbergasted. But, then again, I guess such a thing would be possible. I mean, people have created games in Excel; creating a crossword puzzle game that worked entirely through Word macros is not outside the realm of sanity. It would even be an interesting little puzzle to solve. But, unfortunately, anybody opening the document would get a macro security warning, which would mean that no sane internet user would ever be able to play the interactive puzzle (though 95% would look right past the warning and let the macros run anyway), and it would be a lot of work for a mere curiosity. But, still, it could be done. I'm sure there's someone in the world motivated enough to build an interactive crossword puzzle in Word.

Chaos theory

When I heard that Amon Tobin was responsible for the soundtrack to the upcoming Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell 3: Chaos Theory, I made an immediate purchase of the CD. I'm glad to discover that it was not unwarranted enthusiasm. It's a good CD; it's still very much in the unique Amon Tobin style, but it's darker and a little more muted than his usual stuff. ("A little more muted" can be interpreted as "pretty insane" versus the "completely insane" that you might apply to his other music.) I'm kind of surprised at how much attention it has received; it was even reviewed on IGN's PC games site. All I'll say is that if you're a fan of Tobin's thick, hyperactive, super-electronic style, you should pick up Chaos Theory as well.

[Update] I do have one complaint about the CD; it seems like it's more repetitive than Tobin's previous albums. This makes sense; a soundtrack isn't supposed to drown out the movie or game. But, I do really enjoy the wacky unpredictability and occasional lack of coherence that I'm used to from the guy.

The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog

Did you know about this? Open a Word document, and type this and then press Enter:
You can even add parameters to the "function":
=rand(paragraphs, sentences per paragraph)
I knew it existed; I just didn't know how to do it.