Thursday, September 30, 2004
Oh, and don't let this post distract you from responding to my message from a few minutes ago. Please comment on that post if you haven't already, which is pretty much all of you at this point. :)
Tuesday, September 28, 2004
Yesterday I had a big order delivered, and he made slightly disconcerting, random comments as always. THEN, last night, I had a really strange and short dream. I was buying something online—something that was apparently terribly embarrassing (no, I don't know what it was)—but I couldn't bring myself to do it, just in case the Safeway guy were the one to deliver the order, because I'd never hear the end of it. So, I ended up not buying whatever it was.
So, as I'm Segwaying off to work this morning, I hear a honk from beside me, and it's the Safeway guy waving at me.
Monday, September 27, 2004
As of this month, all of my top search engine keywords are crossword-related. A year or two ago, they were almost exclusively related to my download manager add-on and developer tools. Weird. In another six months or so I should hit my half-millionth download of EclipseCrossword, which will be pretty awesome.
Just so you know, I would prefer it if none of my quotes from Daniel's website showed up on my tombstone.
Friday, September 24, 2004
About two years later (as in, a month ago), I met a new friend at a meeting of the Microsoft Thursday evening board gaming group. As I often do (and apparently a lot of people in Kauffman do), I Googled his name, and I happened to find out that his birthday wasn't too far off. So, I pondered the best way to take advantage of this knowledge while maximizing creepiness. I came to the conclusion that the best thing to do would be to write him a happy birthday Haiku and send it from a dummy email account so he would have no idea who it was from. Apparently it was creepy, because he never responded to my mail. So, I saw him the next day, and during a lull in conversation, this transpired:
Me: So, how was yesterday? Any weird emails?
Marc: No... just a normal day.
Marc: Yeah. Oh... Oh! You! You did that? I... I was...
After this was a long period of silence with the best look of stunned and confused silence that I think I've ever received: an expression of such utter, all-encompassing dumbfoundedness that it is an exceptional treat whenever you are so lucky to experience it. In fact, I was so pleased with my successful attempt at being creepy that I may just have to think of a way to top this whenever the next rare gem of an opportunity like this comes up.
But, Marc won't be the next victim of my periodic need to be extremely creepy. I mean, I really like the guy, and if I had done something too soon to intentionally creep out Tracy, she never would have talked to me again.
I was going to end my post here, but I figure I'll throw in another creepy story just for kicks. So, freshman year, I decided that I would try to freak out Daniel. He was coming back from something or other, maybe basketball, and I, for some reason (hey, I didn't spend a lot of time thinking about this one), decided I would hide in the closet, and when he entered the room, I would throw a wad of gym shorts at him. So, I did this, but he wasn't particularly impressed, and neither was I, afterward. Let this be a lesson to you: if an idea only took you five seconds to devise, it's probably not a very clever idea.
Thursday, September 23, 2004
In the end, I would probably say that The Empire Strikes Back could be "one of my favorite movies," though it certainly isn't in my top 10. I'm very glad that I forced myself to put aside my prejudice towards Star Wars and watch all three (five, actually... I got episodes I and II a couple months ago since they were becoming harder and harder to find) like this... were it not for Knights of the Old Republic (a recent Star Wars game for those of you living in caves), I never would have even considered picking them up. Overall a very worthwhile purchase, and probably something that no self-respecting nerd's movie collection should be without.
I'll just take this opportunity to tack on my opinion of Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, which I thought was well worth my $8.50 or whatever ridiculous amount movies cost here. It was a good movie, and its coolness factor was abnormally high. Unfortunately, its silliness was nearly off the charts at points, but it was done much better than movies I'd say were somewhat similar, like The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. Sky Captain was inventive, interesting, and very well-filmed and produced. The story was interesting enough, and the characters were fun. As long as you can get past the fact that much of it is purposely stupid (like the Mystery Science Theatre-esque robots), I think that just about anyone could enjoy it.
Wednesday, September 22, 2004
I must not fear.
Fear is the mind-killer.
Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.
I will face my fear.
I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
Where the fear has gone there will be nothing.
Only I will remain.
UPDATE [5:32 Pacific]: My camera has indeed shipped. Mental anguish: reduced. Waiting: intensified.
So, I'm not much of a Star Wars fan. I haven't even seen episodes V and VI in their contiguous entirety, and there were even moments in episode IV that I didn't recognize at all. I purchased the DVD set because I've been anti-Star Wars for almost as long as I can remember. It got to the point where I could barely remember why I didn't like Star Wars, and so I decided I should watch the original trilogy in their sexy DVD forms and let go of my preconceived notions. I am going to try my absolute best to judge them objectively, and completely ignore everything about Star Wars that I knew from before, which isn't much: about all I know from episodes V and VI is that at some point the Death Star is rebuilt, and Anakin/Vader is Luke's father, and I'm not exaggerating much.
So, as I implied, I watched episode IV tonight. Don't get me wrong, it's overall a good movie. But, if it weren't such a cultural icon, I still don't see any particular reason that future generations would have to see it. I felt similarly about Fellowship of the Ring: I thought that, by itself, it was an excellent movie, but not a required viewing for all eternity. After seeing the next two LOTR movies I changed my mind. Perhaps the same thing will happen with Star Wars. But, as it stands now, I'm content, but certainly not overwhelmed with respect. It's a pretty good movie—better than I really let myself believe—but it's not a 10/10. It's not even a 9/10. It lost some points for some stupid silliness, some of the acting, and the technical problems that come with being such an old movie (bad editing, bad costumes, low-tech buttons and switches, and so forth). Still, I anxiously await watching the next two movies (sorta for the first time). Just as long as I get them watched before my camera gets here. :)
I probably shouldn't mention that, as it stands, Attack of the Clones is my favorite Star Wars movie.
Monday, September 20, 2004
Internet Explorer was a pioneer in the things that web developers today care about: it supported CSS for cleaner, more efficient coding, it supported XML and XSLT to bring data together from any number of sources and transform it into useful content, and it supported a variety of "active" technologies to make thin clients possible. No other browser at the time could even come close. It's a testament to how innovative Internet Explorer really is/was that only now do we really have a browser that can do approximately as much approximately as well, years after nearly all development on Internet Explorer stopped.
Sunday, September 19, 2004
Saturday, September 18, 2004
For those of you who care to know what I ended up getting:
- Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM prime
- Canon EF 17-40mm f/4L USM wide-angle zoom
- Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM telephoto zoom
Friday, September 17, 2004
(For historical accuracy, I should point out that Microsoft didn't invent the idea of a syndication format. However, they did create the first XML syndication format, and they did offer the first successful commercial product that took advantage of it, Internet Explorer 4.)
Thursday, September 16, 2004
- The whole thing is water-resistant. It wouldn't survive being submerged, but it should take quite an aqueous pounding. In addition, it has a compartment on the bottom that contains a built-in stretchy poncho that you can pull out in case it's pouring and you can't find any shelter that will keep it dry indefinitely.
- The main compartment of the backpack is heavily padded. You could probably put sensitive equipment (i.e. an expensive camera and lenses) in here and kick the backpack without fear.
- The backpack comes with an absurd number of foam and velcro dividers in two different sizes. You can then adapt the main compartment to fit pretty much whatever kind of expensive equipment you want. It comes pre-configured to hold two SLR cameras and a half dozen extra lenses, plus filters and other accessories, but if you needed to take around a GPS unit, a seismograph, and lots of other crap, it could easily accomodate you. The walls are thick, so regardless of what you put in it, the backpack shouldn't lose its shape.
- It also features a separate laptop compartment, padded just as well as the main compartment.
- You can't tell it unless you know where to look, but a heavy-duty sleeve can be extended from the back to hold something big that doesn't fit in the compartment, such as a light tent or a tripod.
- There are, of course, places for pens, paper, water, food, etc., just like any other backpack. If your water spilled in this compartment, it can't get to the laptop slot or main compartment.
- It's comfortable, and it's got all of the usual ergonomic and technical features of a good backpack.
I'm extremely pleased with it. The only disappointing things are the price (but it could have been worse) and the fact that it's merely average in appearance. Then again, if you're going to put more than $5,000 worth of stuff in it, maybe it's best not to attract attention.
For easy reference:
Wednesday, September 15, 2004
Tuesday, September 14, 2004
There was also a lot of singing, including a full-length music video about our business partners to the tune of "Bohemian Rhapsody." Even Red vs. Blue made an appearance to talk about Halo 2. And, of course, there was plenty of Bill adjusting his glasses and Steve screaming and waving his arms.
Things that I have decided that I like:
- Raspberry yogurt
- The Microsoft Natural Multimedia Keyboard
- Percocet and 600mg (triple-dose) Ibuprofen
Things that I have decided suck ass:
- XSLT and XPath
- Using one keyboard layout at work and another at home
- Companies that charge you a fee to pay online instead of using a check
- People who don't pay you for doing contract work
- Being invited over to the house of a senior manager to play board games and then sleeping through your alarm clock for three hours because you're wacked-out on Percocet
There. I hope that was enlightening for you.
Friday, September 10, 2004
I just wish it weren't so damned expensive. The camera and two entry-level lenses are going to cost me at least $2,250, no mere pocket change. If I get two high-quality lenses, it jumps to $3,500. Why do all of my hobbies cost so much? Software development is expensive. Computer games are expensive. (At least board games aren't too expensive.) Collecting music is expensive. And, photography is really, really expensive. Then again, I guess a lot of hobbies that other people have don't interest me that much: my lack of interest in cars, travel, dating, and alcohol is probably the only reason I can sort-of-afford the things that I do enjoy.
I've been asked by some people why I need such expensive equipment, being an amateur photographer. I think the main one is that while I do it for fun, I do it as an art form. The thought that my creative soul isn't being recorded at the quality it could be is too unsettling for me. But, another huge reason is that, unlike many other hobbies, putting a lot of money into cameras, lenses, filters, and accessories can actually significantly broaden the quality and variety in the art that you create. I could have bought lens A for $80, but I'm probably going to get lens B for $300 instead, just because lens B would allow me to take sharper pictures with more detail in them. My goal is not to buy expensive equipment to impress anyone (if I wanted to do that I would buy jewelry or a car), or because I think it will automatically make my pictures better. My goal is that having high-quality equipment will allow me to grow as an artist, and allow me to create pictures that I simply could not have taken without it.
Thursday, September 9, 2004
- Once you're ready to go out on your own, get a copy of your credit report. You can get a free one if you do something that would cause a credit check to be performed on you (getting insurance, asking for a credit limit increase, etc.). There are probably inaccuracies in yours too, and getting them cleared up ahead of time might help you get lower insurance rates or otherwise help you out in the near future.
- Strange things are considered when companies are evaluating your credit. They look at the highest balance you've had on each of your credit cards over the last two years (it's reported every month). At some point in the last four years I nearly maxed out the balance on each of my lines of credit, so it looks like I'm a total loser, even though I paid back all of them immediately before they accrued interest. They also record every time you're late for a payment, which I'm happy about, because I've never been late for a payment of any kind. Finally, they record every time you move, which is really bad for college students, since you often move a couple times a year.
Pulling the handle turned off the white lights in the room and turned on the blue neon lights with holes in them. The room then began to spin rapidly as if I were inside a tube that was being rolled. I could hear what sounded like water falling, like a shower, but there was no water. At some point I figured out that I was in a futuristic shower that cleaned you using air or sonic waves or something that wasn't wet. While I was in the shower, other people came in and also used the shower, some of them sitting down on the couch, and not all of them male. Everyone was fully clothed, though.
So, we sat/stood there talking to each other while the room spun rapidly, somehow taking a shower without getting wet or undressing. As if that weren't weird enough, some of the people in the shower were recurring characters from other dreams that I've had that took place in totally different settings. The characters that I recognized included a sarcastic but funny black girl, a stereotypical sporty frat guy, and a shy guy that I was friends with. None of these people exist in real life, and like all other people in my dreams, they don't have names.
Once the shower ended, the room stopped spinning, and the normal lights came back on. Then, the dream ended. It was one of the most bizarrely interesting dreams I've had in a while, and it was both longer than 15 seconds and didn't take place in Microsoft Outlook, which makes it one of the best dreams I've had in a long time.
Wednesday, September 8, 2004
This still left me with the confusing reason that I failed my background check, which she didn't understand any more than I did. So, I called ChoicePoint and Experian to get copies of the reports that State Farm used, and I got them yesterday. Here's what I found out about myself:
I own one "car," a 2004 Segway i170. However, its VIN on file was the wrong number of digits, so I must not really own one. Of course, Segways have serial numbers, not VINs. This was the ONLY information in the entire ChoicePoint report.
Then, I took at look at my Experian report. I did have one "notice," which was that one of the addresses on file, my one-month temp housing in Sammamish, WA was listed as a business and not a residence. They listed my company as "Engineering-Management Service." On the next page, I see that I occasionally use an alias: sometimes I go by the name "Travis Spomer" instead of "Travis M. Spomer." (Terrorist!) Not only that, but apparently I also lived at the corner of 2nd and E in Lincoln at some point, while I was living in Sammamish. (Just so we're clear, I have never lived at 2nd and E.) It must have been very inconvenient for me to drive so many thousands of miles each day.
But wait, there's more. After this, the banks that I have credit cards and lines of credit (such as my "same as cash" account with Levitz Furniture) with are listed. Apparently, they also think that I have a Citibank card and a Discover card; I have neither of these, and never have.
Finally, in the summary of the report, they tally up all of the "bad" things in your report. My total is 0. (At least they got that right.) All in all, there are at least four errors in the report, which I find fairly disturbing. Despite the fact that I have never been late for any payment of any kind and always pay off all of my credit card balances each month, these inaccuracies are apparently responsible for my insurance being canceled—insurance I had already paid for a year in advance.
1. Look at to-do list with ten things under "TUESDAY."
2. Change the word "TUESDAY" to "WEDNESDAY."
That's all there is to it! Now I can easily get done anything I need to get done in a given day. I used this trick to great effect today.
Tuesday, September 7, 2004
I can't wait until I can port IvoryTower over to .NET 2.0. There is simply too much programming goodness in Visual Studio 2005.
Monday, September 6, 2004
If that guy wasn't wearing like five layers of condoms, I'm buying a gun. I want to buy one anyway. I would really like to take up shooting, but you can't shoot a firearm in city limits, and I think that the surrounding cities are the same way.
Infant shipping clerk: Okay, 3-day will cost you $37.49; 2-day will cost you $52.85, and overnight will cost you $89.11.
Father: 3-day! I'm not made of money.
Mother: (gives "we're never having sex again" look)
Father: (sighs) Just kidding. Overnight, please.
This plan has two major advantages, one being that children could be raised by childcare professionals. The main advantage, however, is that I would not have to hear the hideous wailing of the demon-child who lives upstairs at unspeakable hours of the day.
Saturday, September 4, 2004
Friday, September 3, 2004
But, I didn't. These are the things that will get me fired.
Hopefully I will think of something more interesting to say later. This is what happens when you are running a big batch of automated tests on your other computer.
Thursday, September 2, 2004
After elementary school, I went to the "normal" middle school that kids in my area attended. For some reason or another, most of my friends from school went to a differerent middle school that was further away, and my best friend moved to a different city with his dad. Then, after middle school, I decided to go to the high school where my mom worked instead of the one that was nearby, so once again I was in a new place with no one I knew. Throughout school, I became friendly with a lot of people, but never had more than a couple friends. Conveniently, my two best friends from high school both happened to come to JDE.
The fact that I kept going to fresh, new schools didn't help. I've always been an extreme introvert, and that made things much worse. So, finally, to my point: I'm not sure why this all happened. I mean, was I born with an inherent friendship deficiency? I never had any problems getting along with people... what was it about kindergarten through high school specifically that prevented me from being able to make friends?
For some reason, it all became really easy in college, especially starting my sophomore year. My personality and my intense fears of introducing myself to people, talking to people without being spoken to first, social events, and so forth didn't change. The only thing that comes to mind that was different was that I was living with these people now. Suddenly I have dozens of people who I would honestly consider good friends.
Now I'm off on my own, thousands of miles away from my family. I miss my family and people from my church—I mean, I've known them all my life—but not too much, and I'm not really homesick as I understand the word. However, it kills me that I'm away from my friends from college, and only AIM and IT keep me sane. It seems weird that I could miss people I've known for less than two years so much, yet not be bothered that I don't see my parents at all.
I don't know how things will work out here. There are several people here who I would consider decent friends, ranging from their late twenties to their fifties, and I like almost all of my co-workers. It's not the same, though. I lack the eloquence to explain what I feel.