Wednesday, May 30, 2007

I was the subject of a scavenger hunt

Today I was one of the subject of a photo scavenger hunt. Some team in my building decided to have a morale event, and one of the things they were instructed to do was to track down the guy with the Segway and get him to let you take a test drive. Five times during a roughly two-hour period a group of people came by, excited to have finally found me, asking for Segway rides. It was rather surreal... I'd never met any of these people before, and only seen about half of them in a building, and I don't know what team they're from or why their manager told them to have their picture taken with me.

After the first couple I put a sign up on my whiteboard that said

Segway rides
$25
Today-only special!

Sadly, there was no supplemental income to be had today.


Currently listening: Modest Mouse—Missed the Boat

Office Space

As I passed the blocks and blocks of stalled traffic on the way to work today, I couldn't help but think of the opening scene of Office Space. Here I was going ten miles and hour, or even less going up that big hill, getting to work faster than the people in the cars.

I don't know if they thought it was funny. I decided not to be too funny and wave at them ceremoniously and mockingly as I passed. But I definitely considered it.

Temporal weather anomalies

A good idea for any of you who might write for sketch comedy shows:

There's a weatherman giving a forecast in front of a green screen, saying things like "Well, it looks like we're going to get to the mid 80s tomorrow, so expect people with large hair, sunglasses, and brightly colored pants. Today the high is in the 70s. Let's take a look at our street-cam." Then, the camera would switch to an outside view, and there would be people in bellbottoms.

Actually, someone has probably already done this, but it seemed funny in the shower. Everything seems funnier in the shower.

The Icy Grip of Comfort

Oh man am I glad that air conditioning is coming in a week and a half. My house is not cooling down, and I'm probably going to have trouble sleeping. It will be even hotter in here tomorrow.

Monday, May 28, 2007

My iPod shuffle

Now that the screen no longer works on my Zen Portable Media Center, I basically just have an iPod shuffle... except this thing has a 4" screen and weighs 3/4 of a pound.

The size and weight haven't actually been a problem yet; I just wish I had a screen so I could put more than one or two playlists on it and still find them. (20 GB is useless without a menu.) I'll probably get a new player later this year. I do not think that it will be an iPod or a Zune.

Listening

The short version:
Air—Moon Safari: 8/10
Garbage—Bleed like Me: 7/10
Jay-Z—The Black Album: 6/10
KT Tunstall—Eye to the Telescope: 8/10


Around the time that I purchased the Air album I mentioned most recently, Pocket Symphony, I also picked up an older album, Moon Safari. I'd have to say that it's equially as good as Pocket Symphony. (Both are worth about 8.5/10, but I was in a round-up mood back then and I'm in a round-down mood right now, so whatever.) Most of what I said about Pocket Symphony applies to their older work Moon Safari as well. This CD sounds a little more "retro" electronic, and less lounge-y. My favorites are Sexy Boy (:30 clip, or full amusing remix), Remember (full track), and Le Voyage de Pénélope (:30 clip). Kelly Watch the Stars (full track) is great too, at just the right level of bizarreness. (There's a radio edit if you want less bizarreness.)

One CD I've had for quite a while but not listened to until now is Bleed like Me by Garbage. Good stuff. Some parts are a little more angry and emo than I'd like, but overall it's quite pleasant. The best stuff on here is Bleed like Me, Boys Wanna Fight, and It's All Over But the Crying. I don't own their debut CD or Version 2.0 yet, but compared to beautifulgarbage, their previous album, this one is more rock and less electronic, so the sound is pretty different. Both are good.

After loving the Linkin Park and Jay-Z mash-up CD Collision Course, I decided that I should try one of Jay-Z's CDs, so I picked The Black Album, from which several of the Collision Course source tracks come. It's not gangsta rap, which is a nice plus. But, his constant claims that he's the greatest rapper to ever live are severely exaggerated, and he's a mediocre producer. (Of course, there are so many untalented rappers who seem to put out poorly-produced albums, this one still stands out.) That's not to say that there aren't good tracks on here; there are. 99 Problems (:30 clip), Justify My Thug, and Lucifer are the best tracks on here. Interestingly, for each track from this album that was remixed on Collision Course, the Collision Course version is unquestionably better. I don't know if it's because Jay-Z's voice sounds better over rock than a rap background, or that the Linkin Park guys are much better producers than Jay-Z, or both. Compare the album version of 99 Problems to the Collision Course version. Or, compare the album Dirt Off Your Shoulder to the Collision Course version. Jay-Z's original versions sound hollow when heard side-by-side. (Of course, tastes vary, but I'm guessing that there aren't too many Jay-Z fans who read this, so I should be in the clear.) Anyway, overall, it's not bad, but I'm not enticed enough to buy any more of his CDs.

Finally, nearly on the complete opposite side of the musical spectrum, I recently picked up Eye to the Telescope by KT Tunstall. It's great light rock, and KT has an interesting and beautiful voice. She's got a strong voice with a lot of character. Black Horse and the Cherry Tree is just amazing and a good example of what her voice can do, and Suddenly I See and Other Side of the World are excellent as well. Another solid 8.5.

I've been listening to the new Linkin Park CD Minutes to Midnight since it came out, but I haven't quite decided what I think of it yet, so I'll talk more about it sometime later. I'm really digging this Bleed It Out though; it's like Linkin Park's version of party rock.


Currently listening: Mario Vasquez—Gallery, and then Rick Astley—Never Gonna Give You Up, because I can't help it

The birds

I think the sound I am hearing right now through my open window is the largest group of birds cawing that I have ever heard in my life. It sounds like a battlefield of crows.

Memorial weekend

Well, it's been a good Memorial Weekend so far. I've been to one cookout, played board games with more than a dozen people, had a movie night, quested in Shadowmoon Valley, touched up my living room paint, put nails in the wall, cleaned up, wrote another WoW mod, deployed and fixed up the new EclipseCrossword.com, talked to Grandma, played Dark Messiah of Might and Magic, and got caught up on some stuff that I'd really like to get done so it's not hanging over my head when I get busy this summer and start hardcore coding.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Tom's Diner

A friend was humming the song Tom's Diner tonight, and I immediately perked up and joined in. It's a terribly catchy tune. It also seemed like a fairly obscure song to hear someone else humming, since the song is as old as I am.

Suzanne Vega and DNA—Tom's Diner (the more recent remix that I heard before the original)

Thursday, May 24, 2007

EclipseCrossword warez no-CD crack XXX latinas

I'm often somewhat amused when I see that someone has gone to the trouble of hosting a warez version of EclipseCrossword somewhere. Is it even possible to pirate free software? Not only that, but most of the time I see people offering EclipseCrossword for download somewhere (I prefer it when webmasters redirect to my site, rather than hosting the file directly), they usually just host the web installer, which doesn't actually include any product files, and instead downloads the latest versions directly from the official source, me. So, not only are they not providing some sort of l33t hax0r3d cracked version of my software, but they're actually probably not providing a version of it at all.

Though... the installer very well could still be infected with trojans or backdoors or the like, of course.

What motivates someone to so recklessly pirate something? I can utterly completely understand the draw of stealing expensive software. I mean, you're supposed to pay for it, but hell, you're getting it for free, and probably not going to get caught. Cha-ching! But pirating a free product says to me that you're just illegally downloading every single little thing you can find. If you had been to the product's website for three seconds to learn about it, you'd see that I use the word FREE five hundred times on the eclipsecrossword.com home page. So, clearly you haven't even done that.


Currently listening: Linkin Park—Bleed It Out

The Changing of the Towel

I don't change my main bathroom towel as much as I mean to. There's a very simple reason: almost every time I'm about to change it, I think to myself, "I'll just use it for one last little thing before I change it." Then, once I use it for that one little thing, I forget to change it.

This makes sense to me on some level, at least when I'm not really paying much attention to what I'm doing, having done all of these "bathroom things" thousands of times before. After brushing my teeth, there will likely be some sort of toothpaste residue on my mouth that I wipe onto the towel. After showering, the towel will be wet and covered in the little bits of dead cells and whatnot that comes off naturally when you dry yourself. I usually think of changing the towel when I first get into the bathroom, and decide to do so as soon as I'm done doing whatever I went in there to do. But it never happens, so I only end up changing my towel once or maybe twice a week.

Responsiveness

After emailing my request for a heat pump to our condo management company at 1:15 last night, I just got a call from the president of my homeowner's association right now at 5:15, saying that my architectural change proposal was approved. Sixteen hours turnaround; not bad for a bunch of elderly retired people who you might assume from stereotypes are terrified of computers and fax machines.

Trash queue

I didn't have trash pickup service for weeks after moving into my new place, so I built up quite a large pile of trash along the side of my house. It's down to a couple bags now, so by the end of next week, I imagine that it will all have been taken care of. It's disappearing slowly, as around here if you're a single person you get a tiny trash can and a huge recycling can, and I can fill up most of the trash can with new trash each week. Having piles of extra trash around is one of those mildly dehumanizing things like not being able to do laundry, and I'll be happy once the trash debt has been cleared.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Homeowner's association

I attended my first homeowner's association meeting last night. For the most part it was two semi-wasted hours, but it was good to meet a bunch of the people who live in my complex, and find out what kinds of issues the other homeowners care about. I also got to propose that I be allowed to install air conditioning, which they're cool with as long as I don't do something stupid like put it out in front of my house. I also got to meet the seemingly sole person under the age of 60 in my area.

From what I could tell as we were reviewing financial statements, the previous owner of my home was very difficult to get along with, and was late on her payments. The remaining residents, however, are very friendly.

It's probably ghosts

When I turn on my computer, the touch lamp in my bedroom (the next room over) turns on. It is weird. This occasionally happens when I turn on other electronic devices, but it happens pretty reliably in the mornings with my computer.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

My hubby

I mostly only play World of Warcraft with my good friend Marc. I find it kind of funny that it is assumed fairly frequently that we are dating, and occasionally married, even though neither of us ever implies this, and often I say things that would certainly cast doubt upon this assumption, and Marc always refers to me as "he." Even though it happens often enough, it still startles me a bit. A couple nights ago I was doing a favor for a guy in my guild, and he replied, "Thanks a ton... if you or your hubby ever need any enchantments, just look me up." That's a pretty typical example of this type of mistake.

I guess this is just what happens when a male orc hunter and a female troll shaman team up for adventures in the World of Warcraft. Even though it is extremely common for male players to have both male and female characters as I do, the immersion is apparently deep enough that people begin to make assumptions about the personal lives of the players based on the characters they select. Or, maybe we just have some desire to understand the people we only know through a game, even if it means having to fill in a lot of details yourself.

Allergies

Well, I got the results from my allergy tests back today—just one little part of all of that blood work that was done not too long ago that resulted in me passing out. It's the first one I've had in at least fifteen years. I was only tested for food allergies this time, or at least that's all I got back today.

My big one in the past was milk. Allergies are rated on a 0-6 scale, where 0-1 is not very allergic, and 5-6 are extremely allergic. Milk and all milk products were 6. Now milk and most dairy products are down to 3s and 4s, which is still a significant improvement. The worst one for me is whey protein, which is still a 6—I guess I won't be bulking up anytime soon. The big surprise here is egg whites, which is also a 4—it wasn't even on my list before. I used to eat a ton of eggs, but I rarely eat them now, so maybe I've lost my tolerance for them.

Anyway, for the extremely curious, here's my list of everything above 0 or 1:

Beta lactoglobulin (whey protein): 6
American cheese: 4
Egg whites: 4
Milk: 3
Cheddar cheese: 3
Bananas: 2
White beans: 2
Egg yolks: 2

Oddities include mold cheese at 0, and yogurt at 0. Also very strange is that I'm mildly allergic to a lot of fruits and some vegetables. In fact, basically all of the fruit I eat frequently is on the list at 1. Finally, wheat used to be a problem and is now down to a 1, and corn used to be my second-biggest food allergy, and it's now a zero—I'm no longer at all allergic to it.

Allergies are strange things.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Under the weather

For some reason I've been feeling pretty awful tonight since a little after dinner. I don't know what the deal is. Seems like everyone else in the office has been sick; I guess it's my turn.

Also, I've got quite a few grey hairs now. Today's just a day full of surprises.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Preparation

I played several hours of World of Warcraft today, and essentially the entire rest of the day has been setting up the new computer. There's a lot of stuff to install, and a lot of data to copy.

As a person who spends an unhealthy amount of time at his computers, I've found many tools, developed many settings, and gotten into many habits that need to be duplicated every time I set up a new machine. Luckily, at home, where it matters most, this only happens once every few years.

It's not so bad that I don't have the new video card just yet after all. I've been working through Remote Desktop all day, and it's helped me focus on getting things set up, and to a lesser extent the other things around the house. If I had the new video card, I'd want to play around with it, and it would take me far longer to turn it into my primary machine. Instead, by sometime fairly early tomorrow, the new PC will be ready to take over as my main PC. I'll be able to set the old computer off to the side much sooner than I otherwise would have been able to. Then, once I figure out how I'm going to get a network cable downstairs, I can keep it near my TV, where it will continue to serve as a DVR and server. It will be nice to finally watch TV on my couch in front of my TV, as opposed to in my chair in front of my computer.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Vista

Well, all of my computer parts except for my video card have arrived now, and I have my new machine assembled, as far as possible. A friend has graciously lent me a spare PCIe video card, so I had something with which to install Windows and some basic software like Office. I'll get the essentials (Winamp, Visual Studio, Photoshop, World of Warcraft) installed this weekend, and Monday evening I'll swap out the video card and I'll be ready to go.

The first thing I noticed is that the case I bought is fantastic. It's a Gigabyte 3D Aurora, and I love it, despite the lame name. It looks nice, but the important part is that it's very cleverly designed. Drives install without screws. It comes with your choice of a grill or a window for the side door, silent fans with LEDs, and cable organizers to keep things tidy. Instead of a standard power LED, the front of the case glows a medium blue when the machine is on, and it actually projects the Aurora logo onto the floor. It's also very roomy. I highly recommend it.

After an annoying bout with my Intel motherboard, which comes with 8 SATA ports but seems picky about which ones you plug your drives into, I got Windows installing. I love what Vista has done with setup; it's fast, attractive, and convenient. After booting for the first time, I was very surprised at how wonderful the Aero Glass UI was looking. I use Vista on my oldest machine at work (the others are all servers), and it has a horrid super-budget video card in it. The UI is very sluggish, though switching off Aero doesn't help much, so I leave it on. But here, even with this temporary ~$60 GeForce 6600 with a sputtering, dying fan, it's blazing fast, and beautiful. Normally I can't stand many of the various window animations, and quickly turn them off, but with Vista on a decent machine, I actually like them. I can't wait to see how it performs with the 8800 GTX on Monday, especially in games—I have to admit that I was quite wary before tonight.

UAC, however, is very much disabled. Cancel or Allow was a very easy decision.

Revealed

Well, Blizzard's big announcement is Starcraft II. Expect it in late 2038.

While increasing the graphics quality to be on par with something you'd expect from a modern game, they've definitely kept the overall look of the original. It's bright, colorful, and cartoony, but not in the same exaggerated way of the Warcraft series. I'm actually surprised at how much it looks like the now-nearly-ancient original Starcraft... it's like Starcraft 1 in high-def. Take this shot for example.

I'm glad it's not World of Starcraft. I still might have preferred Diablo 3, but the idea of Hellgate: London still has me thrilled, so I don't mind waiting a few more years for a new Diablo game.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

The price of comfort

I can put a price on comfort. It's $10,600. That's how much Sears is quoting me for air conditioning, or specifically, a heat pump. Even with that, they're concerned that the upstairs, where the cooling is most important, won't cool as efficiently as it would in a more modern home.

Two more independent estimates are coming tomorrow.

User-created content

Over the years I've developed a decent number of add-ons of various types for games, which I really didn't realize until just now. Sure, like many other nerdy children and adults I created Doom levels, Starcraft maps, and Morrowind and Oblivion mods, but I've also done a decent amount of coding for games that were not my own creation.

Working to change or add onto a game in some way is, at first glance, sort of odd. You're working on something that's supposed to be fun and relaxing. But, software development can be very zen and pleasurable in the right circumstances. And, it's nice to have a change of pace and a variety of different challenges. You just have to forget the fact that the amount of enjoyment you'll directly gain from the finished product is quite unlikely to be worth the amount of time you put in—you have to make up the rest by sharing the add-on with others or the inherent joy you get from programming.

Anyway, the mod projects I'm working on for World of Warcraft are certainly my largest bodies of work, as I've probably spent a good hundred hours on them so far, but some of the other stuff I've done has been amusing as well. Sadly, I have almost none of it today; it's lost somewhere in a landfill or on 5.25" disks at my parents' place. As far as the stuff I remember goes...

I wrote a no-CD crack and performance enhancement for the original X-COM. It wasn't a crack in the traditional sense; I didn't have to actually change any of the game's EXE code. I just developed a system of bypassing CD checks, installing additional CD content onto the hard drive, and replacing parts of the game scripts to make things run faster. It ended up being much faster, which made the game quite a bit more enjoyable, as the base game was frustratingly slow. I was about thirteen at the time, and feared getting in trouble if I shared such a thing with the world, so I was the only person to ever experience this speedy version of X-COM. I think my brother and dad both hated the excruciatingly turn-based game, so I doubt even they ever ran my enhanced version.

Another fun DOS-era project was a program I wrote to let you create maps for the Warcraft II expansion. Originally, the map editor only supported maps for the base game, not the expansion, so I added support for the new graphics tilesets. It was just a few hex edits on the map files, but I was pretty proud of it at the time.

One of my first Windows programs was a map editor for a DOS fishing simulator game my brother bought and enjoyed. I don't even remember the name of the game—something like Bass Pro Tour. Anyway, while I didn't find the game fun, I was pretty excited about the idea of creating a whole map editor for the game, complete with some terrain smoothing features and all sorts of fun things. I think this is the only instance in which I spent quite a bit of time creating an add-on for a game I didn't care for at all.

There was also some RPG game I had that only allowed a single savegame, which I found annoying, so I wrote a program to let you keep a whole library of savegames, back them up, and choose the one to play with each time you run the game. It might have been this game, about which I was quite obsessed at one point in my childhood. I probably wrote this when I was about 10.

I know there have been others, but I can't quite recall them right now. They're very pleasant memories, though.

Anticipation

Either Friday night or Saturday, Blizzard is going to announce their next big game at a Korean games championship. Normally this wouldn't be much of a big deal, but this is Blizzard, and they're kind of the overlords of PC gaming, after all. Every game they put out is a hit, for good reason. There are basically three schools of thought.

The first is that the game will be Starcraft 2. I personally think this is the most likely. Blizzard bought the domain starcraft2.com and has it pointed to a generic countdown to their announcement. And, the announcement was timed to coincide with a Korean festival, and there's nothing Koreans love more than Starcraft.

The second is that the game will be Diablo 3. They've been saying for a while now that they're working on a new Diablo game, and that they don't want it to have been a decade since Diablo II. Since it will probably take another year after the announcement before it's released, they're starting to run out of time if they want it to follow Diablo 2 by ten years. Announcing Diablo 3 right now would be an interesting twist, as many of the people responsible for Diablo 2 left the company a while back and have been working on Hellgate: London, which is probably coming out early next year, and similar in concept to Diablo.

Finally, the third possibility is that the game will be World of Starcraft. They've stated that their next MMO won't be "just another WoW." They're definitely working on another MMO in some fashion right now. How far along they are is debatable. Just a few months ago they were hiring lead designers and engineers for a next-generation MMO, and those aren't the sorts of positions you fill right before you announce the game to the public. Plus, World of Warcraft has only had one expansion at this point, and they have several planned; I don't think they're going to release another MMO just yet. Then again, they are very lucrative...

I think that Starcraft 2 is the most likely, and World of Starcraft is the least likely. Personally, the one I'd like to see most is Diablo 3, followed by Starcraft 2, and followed by World of Starcraft. It's possible that they'll announce something else entirely, but that seems pretty unlikely to me. Whatever it is, it's pretty much guaranteed to be good...

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Water is good

I have not kept it a secret that I hate the water here. Well, I finally got a Pur mini-cooler for my fridge, and it's a definite improvement. It's not quite as nice as having a filter built into my fridge, but it's still pretty convenient to have cold, clean water on tap, and if I compare the cost of filters with the ridiculous cost of Caffine Free Diet Coke here, it's certainly cheaper. Maybe I've found a use for my mini-fridge: I could get another one of these things and keep one upstairs.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Cancer is bad

Having not had a physical since sometime around middle school, I had one today. (Technically, half last Monday before my suite of lab tests, and the other half today.) Everything turned out fine. The doctor pointed out that my legs aren't as flexible as they should be, but the problem that I had is one I've had all my life—when on my back, my legs can't quite go 90 degrees upward without bending. My brother can't do it either; maybe I can blame it on genes. At least I can grab the balls of my feet.

Speaking of grabbing my balls, I had the sublime joy of my first testicular cancer and prostate exams today, now that I'm an old man and we must worry about such things. I was just waiting all day for someone to complain about something, even something trivial, and somehow this was the one day in which it didn't happen. I was gonna be all like "yeah, well at least you didn't have an old man's finger in your ass!" but I never got the chance.

Thought I'd share. I was really pleased with that balls segue back there; I just thought that one up on the spot.


Currently listening: Garbage—Boys Wanna Fight

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Perf

This update to Outlook 2007 has made me quite happy (or, rather, far less unhappy):

Update for Outlook 2007 (KB933493)

Outlook now downloads all ~2500 of the emails I get a day in a minute or two, instead of like half an hour like it used to inexplicably take. That was really the only major annoyance I had with Outlook.

The song I've probably listened to most, or how Winamp's randomization has betrayed me

As I've mentioned many times before, I have a large "main playlist" of songs that I own that I like, and when I don't feel like listening to any one particular thing, I just put the big playlist on shuffle, and let Winamp decide what I feel like listening to. There's enough on there to play for more than ten days straight, 24 hours a day, without repeating: 3465 tracks so far. I open this playlist frequently enough that the "start Winamp" button I've assigned on my keyboard just opens this playlist automatically.

However, when I'm listening to a single album, I always listen to it in the original order, not shuffled. If the last thing I listened to was an album, and I open that massive playlist, the thing that starts playing is the first thing on there alphabetically: Betrayed Me by Adema. Luckily, it's not a bad song. I don't always remember to switch over to shuffle mode until after a second Adema song comes on and I realize something is off. So, it very well could be the song I've listened to more than any other in my collection. The only thing that makes me unsure is that it's only been there since 2003.

last.fm disagrees, though it's merely an incomplete and recent reflection of what I listen to, so not terribly accurate. According to my last.fm profile, the track I've listened to most is Mi Confesión by Gotan Project.


Currently listening: Adema—Betrayed Me, then Jewel—Sweet Temptation, and then I've queued up Gotan Project—Mi Confesión to skew my stats even further... :)

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Lightroom

I decided to pick up Adobe Lightroom. I was a bit torn. It's full of awesome functionality, and the only other thing like it is Apple Aperture, which is never coming to Windows, so it's basically my only choice for this genre of pro photography workflow software. But, it's a perplexing product—Lightroom doesn't get your photos looking better than you can get with other software; it merely does things very efficiently and with style. It's almost like you're paying just to have all sorts of useful photography features you already have from your other software all integrated into one application.



It's a pretty smooth little app. Everything's rich with finishing touches in a very Apple-like way—it's black and stylish, uses subtle animation to good effect, and there are even little things like "flourishes" at the bottoms of the dockable panes. You can rearrange your photos on a "table," see things side by side, quickly zoom into details, preview different development techniques, and so forth. And, in a very Apple and Adobe way, the UI is quirky, and there are plenty of useless customizations you can make, such as replacing the Lightroom logo with your own logo and picking a different flourish or color scheme, but yet you can't make useful customizations like rearranging the panes.

Also, in a very Adobe way, it's extremely slow. It pegs my CPU at 100% at pretty much all times just so I know it's a powerful piece of software—how thoughtful. After you install it, it will take a leisurely couple hours to rape your files, and you can't really use your computer at all during this time, because it's maxing out your hard drive and using a good chunk of your CPU cycles. That, combined with the fact that the registration wizard will fail if you paste your CD key instead of typing it manually, gives you a very poor first impression.

But, I had already used the trial for a couple weeks, and after the initial rape, it's a pretty nicely-designed little app. It's a luxury item; nobody "needs" it, and I won't get enough use out of it to justify the eventual cost, but what you're paying for is increased happiness while working with your photos, and I decided in the end that that might be worth it.

After my next photo shoot, I'm sure I'll talk about it a little more. It's been handy while triaging and developing so far, but it should really shine once I've got a couple hundred pics to sort through. It would certainly look extremely snazzy if I had a powerful laptop that I carried around so I could show proofs to clients, but I have neither the powerful laptop nor the clients.


Currently listening: Garbage—Bleed like Me

Friday, May 11, 2007

Teenager

As of today I've been writing software under the name Green Eclipse for 13 years—more than half my life. Crazy.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Bizarre weather anomalies

Something's awry. In the sky there's this thick layer of solid blue that's covering up all the clouds, and I'm not sure what it is. I'm not really the suspicious type, but it seems like a bad omen.

Monday, May 7, 2007

Blacking out in the company of strangers

I had a suite of exciting medical tests done today. First off in the morning I had a physical, or rather half of one; my doctor likes to split them across two separate days. I'm already pretty hungry at this point after having fasted for about fourteen hours. Then I headed off to Bellevue for a bunch of lab tests—six vials of blood and a urine sample, to be exact. It took them six different spots on my arms and hands, several pokes in each spot, to get my vein, so I'm still a bit sore. But that's not the amusing part... once they actually started drawing blood, I was so weak after having fasted for about eighteen hours that I quickly passed out. I saw a sparkling checkerboard pattern, slurred "oh, I'm feelin' that," and then I blinked. When I opened my eyes, there was a beeping alarm noise, and two people were holding my arms. It didn't feel like any time had passed, but it had been a couple minutes since I blacked out and started to fall from the chair.

Once I had regained some strength they finished extracting the blood samples, and then they kept me there for about half an hour. They assured me it was not too uncommon for people who had been fasting for that long; I just should have had a hearty midnight snack and had the samples taken first thing in the morning. After that I no longer felt like I was in danger of fainting again, so they released me and I went straight to the Subway down the street and ate as if I hadn't had a thing in two-thirds of a day.

Next on my list was a chest x-ray, and there was a bit of a wait for that one. When I finally got in for my turn, they gave me a gown to put on (my shirt had buttons, which are a no-no for chest x-rays), and my arms were too weak to tie the gown behind me. It was pretty pathetic, actually.

Here it is almost 10:00, and I'm still feeling a bit weak from fasting and losing all that blood. Today is a day I am not eager to repeat. It's also the first hot, sunny day of the year, a stern reminder that I need to call around and sign up for air conditioning estimates.


Currently listening: Air—Talisman

Sunday, May 6, 2007

Legions of Zarahemla

Want to a board game but can't think of a theme? This website does all the work for you:

Check Out My New Boardgame!

Here's an example:

Legions of Zarahemla
This is a racist DVD game made entirely of stone in which the players are voting for ninja robots who are trying to erotically massage an army of zombie alligators in order to squander the most successful empire.

That sounds like a pretty good game... Oh, okay, one more. I'm a sucker for randomly generated text.

Federation and Castles
This is an unfairly panned pure auction game for any number of players in which the players are corporate hillbillies who are trying to supply power to Nazis in order to complete the most cardboard coins.


Currently Listening: Jay-Z—Justify My Thug

Saturday, May 5, 2007

Under the Iron Sea

The short version:
Keane—Under the Iron Sea: 9/10
DJ Shadow—The Outsider: 3/10
John Legend—Get Lifted: 3/10


I picked up the new Keane CD, Under the Iron Sea, and it's excellent. I bought it about a minute into the opening track Atlantic—I was mesmerized by the hypnotic beat and the dark but lovely synth strings and piano. It's sad and beautiful, and you have to hear it. There are so many great pop-rock songs on here it's hard to just pick a few, but A Bad Dream and Put It Behind You are both worth listening. I was not terribly impressed by their first CD Hopes and Fears, but I'm glad I gave them another chance; I can't put this one down. (Well, figuratively.) Highly recommended; you're most likely to enjoy this CD if you like Snow Patrol.

My opinion is far lower of the new DJ Shadow album The Outsider. This disc is nothing short of confusing given the range of styles on here. The best four tracks are each completely different styles. Sample This Time (I'm Gonna Try It My Way), Backstage Girl (featuring Phonte Coleman), and You Made It (featuring Chris James). All of those are decent, but it would be quite disingenous to give the impression that the CD is all like that. There's some truly awful crap on here—Turf Dancing (featuring The Federation and Animaniaks) and Keep 'em Close (featuring Nump) are just two of the songs on here that will make your ears bleed. Perhaps the worst part is that they probably could have been quite a lot better if the guest rappers weren't so horrible. Overall, there are a few decent tracks, a few mediocre tracks, and some pretty bad ones. Not recommended.

Finally, I picked up a 2006 Grammy winner, Get Lifted by John Legend. R&B isn't really one of my genres, but after hearing him sing High Road on the Fort Minor CD, I decided it was worth a chance. I should have saved my money. The songs are all pretty repetitive to me, as not only do they sound fairly similar, but also just about every song on the disc is about cheating, or apologizing for cheating. Nothing on this CD stands out as all that great, but the more tolerable tracks are Used to Love U, Let's Get Lifted, and Number One (featuring Kanye West). Not recommended unless you like R&B far more than I do. Go buy the Fort Minor CD instead.


Currently listening: Jonathan Coulton—re: Your Brains

Careers in double entendre

(Alternate post title: HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA)

Okay, trust me on this. Go to http://rim.jobs right now. It's absolutely safe for work.

What... the... hell. Okay, in case you didn't trust me, or in case you are reading this post in a bleak future in which that domain has been repurposed for more nefarious purposes, that's the URL to the Research In Motion (RIM) recruiting site. You know; they make Blackberries.

So, which is it? Did the person who registered that domain totally not get it, or did their boss not get it?


Currently listening: Incubus—Drive

Friday, May 4, 2007

Spider-man

Spider-man 3, based on my recollections of the first two...
  • Is approximately as sappy as #2
  • Is acted the worst of the three
  • Is more acrobatic than the other two
  • Has way, way too many Tobey Maguire crotch thrusts
  • Is funnier than the first two
  • Utilizes Bruce Campbell to great effect
  • Is moderately entertaining overall, though certainly missable

Closing credits: Snow Patrol—Signal Fire

Oops

Hmm, it seems that I failed to successfully apply antiperspirant this morning.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Volume

Watching DVDs on a nice big screen at a proper volume, not constrained by neighbors sharing walls with me, is pretty great.