Saturday, April 30, 2005

Knizia day

I played nine games designed by Reiner Knizia today, a rather famous and prolific German board game designer. (In fact, that's essentially all I did today.) I won two out of the nine, which sort of makes it seem like I didn't really deserve the reputation I got, though I guess I did pull last place in a lot of those other seven. It's fun having a group of friends who are significantly older than I am.

It's also kind of fun recklessly zipping around residential areas in the darkness of night on the Segway. It's a lot more entertaining ride when I have a bigger patch of flat space to ride on; sidewalks here are narrow and not maintained well at all, and they're in pretty bad shape from all of the trees causing the tiles to shift around.

Thursday was not a good day

Here's how you know that things just aren't working out well:
  1. Put in a day's worth of work, and at the end of the day, realize that the time to completion of your project has increased by about five days instead of decreasing by a day.
  2. Play three board games.
  3. In the first game, tie for second-to-last place out of six people.
  4. In the second game, do even worse, and tie for last place.
  5. In the third game, do even worse, and handily conquer last place.

Friday, April 29, 2005

Intriguing development

It looks like Arrested Development has, in fact, not been cancelled. The Fox website lists Arrested Development as returning this summer. Hopefully, it's going to be around for a while, not just a few more episodes.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005


Tonight is a night for accomplishment. Tonight I will forget about the hideous backlog of work I have in the office, and get things done at home. I have ordered a pizza... haven't done that in a year. School is almost out... my work schedule's a little off; it's a couple months before I get a break. Then I'll take a short vacation or something like that.

But tonight... tonight I will tabulate survey responses. I might not even start World of Warcraft. But maybe I'll take a short break somewhere in there. :)

The Rites of Atkina

Okay, so here's a wacky one. This is what happens when you manage to get almost a full seven hours of sleep in a night: another weird dream.

I was visiting my parents back in Nebraska. Strangely, I only saw my dad during the dream; usually it's the other way around, and I only see my mom. My brother was also there. I had been challenged by the University of Nebraska chemistry department to the Rites of Atkina. Now, I wasn't sure what this was, but apparently I thought it was important enough to make an emergency trip back to Lincoln. I thought that somehow my degree was on the line... like the chemistry department was having second thoughts about whether I really earned that C average in chemistry.

So then here it was, the day of my Atkina. The trial was to start at 1:30 and end at 2:00, and included (according to my schedule, printed in the standard LaTeX font that I've seen so much) a quiz, a recitation session, and a test. Then I looked at my watch (which I haven't worn in almost a year), and it was 1:27. So, we rushed to my mom's car so I could at least make it in time for the recitation and test, which we assumed were ten minutes each, and that I would probably miss the quiz. And that's where the dream ended, awakened by my alarm clock.

Widescale infringement

Did the red cross exist as a symbol for first aid and medical help before the Red Cross organization used it for its name and logo, or did it just kind of occur as a generalization of the Red Cross' trademark symbol?

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Recycled content day

Instead of posting something new and creative, I've decided just to post random things I've saved over the years. Enjoy. (Enjoyment is mandatory.)

From a post on Slashdot from someone going by the name "Waffle Iron":
The DRU500A by Sony burns DVD-R/-RW, DVD+RW/+R, and even CD-R/CD-RW discs. At $349, you’d be wasting your money. I paid only $249 for a Sunbeam Gas Grill. At 40,000 BTU/hour, it will easily burn DVD-R/-RW/+RW/+R/ROMs, CD-R/CD-RW/CD-ROMs, floppies, Zip disks, Jaz disks, books, magazines, motherboards, DVD/CD drives, keyboards, hotdogs, steaks, dead rodents, old shoes… just about anything.

History is probably the least useful subject I’ve ever been forced to take. Oh, sure, we’ve all heard the old adage that “those who do not know history are doomed to repeat it.” But I’m not, nor will I ever be, the emperor of Germany.

Kurt, one of the graduate students from Software Design Studio:
I’m not good with the faculty. They say I have a bad attitude… I’ll show them a bad attitude, those sons of bitches.

Andy Misle, after tasting my coffee cake:
I’m getting you some Pillsbury mixes for your birthday.

Luke Waltman:
Do you guys eat apples? We have this 14-year-old dwarf apple tree at home, and in the past, the apples have been horribly deformed or completely worm-infested. But this year, my dad sprayed some strange chemical on it, and it killed everything… So, apples, then?

Steven Wright:
If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the precipitate.

From The Onion:
South Korean scientists successfully cloned a human embryo, a procedure some feel is unethical. What do you think?
Harold Price: Finally, someone invented a way to make more Asians.

And, finally, the one that makes me a bad person for sure:
David: I’ve only seen ‘certificate of live birth.’ I don’t think that you get certificates of stillbirth.
Me: It could be like lottery tickets—each birth certificate has a one-in-three chance of winning. There would be little silver areas you have to scratch off.
David: Live fetus… another live fetus!… Oh, dead fetus. Rats!
Me: Or, maybe if you turn in three non-winning certificates, you could get a free baby.
David: Yeah, but it would be an ethnic minority.
Me: There’s always a catch!
Wobbles: Maybe there should be some kind of pool where you can turn in your baby and hope to get a better one.
David: Like a cakewalk?

Sleepless in Sin City

I'm kinda proud of my new template and photo, as much as I tend to hate photos of myself and working with them. I'm not generally a big fan of the red-and-black thing, so I don't know how long this will last.

I still want to see Sin City. I've heard many good things about it, and it looks interesting... kinda like Sky Captain. Also, it has Jessica Alba in it, so it will probably be bad and hot.

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Oh, Wilmington

I'm glad that I don't know anyone who lives in Delaware, because I've grown accustomed to just throwing away everything that comes from there, because it always ends up being a credit card offer or something similarly annoying. Especially Wilmington, DE. That's the worst one.


I had a boiled egg tonight. It was all I could muster not to imagine them as having powdered baby chick inside.

Friday, April 22, 2005

More dream stories

Oh! I just remembered right now that I remembered a few hours ago a dream I had a few nights ago. Don't worry; the dream isn't as complicated as that sentence was.

So, in the dream, it was discovered that eggs were getting to consumers having already been fertilized and having tiny, dead little baby chicks in them. Rather than fix the problem, egg producers started blending the insides of the eggs before shipping them off. Somehow this all worked out so that when you opened an egg, you wouldn't know if it was a normal egg, or if it had little bits of pulverized powdered chick in it. The thought of this disturbed me so much that I could no longer eat anything that contained egg in any form, because I was too scared of the prospect of eating powdered-chick without even knowing.

More tasty tidbits

More little random things that I feel like sharing:

* I prefer the size of CompactFlash cards to other memory cards. They're the biggest ones that I'm aware of, but they're just a pleasant size to me. Also, I don't worry about breaking them because they're bulky and thick, unlike things like the miniature xD cards my mom's camera uses, which feel like they're made out of tissue paper.

* PayPal scams. I'm still getting these things. Apparently there must be people in the world who are just getting these for the first time and falling for them, because otherwise I don't see what the point of sending them out is.

* My todo list is far too long. I just need to spend a weekend trimming it down (by actually doing the things on it, not just select-all, delete). But, thanks to World of Warcraft, this is unlikely to happen for quite some time. So, I continue to prioritize and procrastinate.

Unbelievable urbanization

Cities in games usually come off as totally unbelievable for me. Let's choose a totally random game that may or may not have anything to do with my life, such as World of Warcraft. The cities in World of Warcraft are just silly. The small villages will have like two buildings, and everyone just stands around 24/7. The large cities, like Stormwind and Orgrimmar, will have quite a few buildings, but rarely peoples' homes. I understand the need to organize things in such a way that the same is still efficient and playable and fun, but this really hurts the immersive illusion of the game for me. This got me thinking... almost no games seem to be able to actually make me feel like I'm in a large city. Several games with massive cities like World of Warcraft and Morrowind (you could hang out in the capitol city of Vivec for a week just exploring and doing quests) exist, but they just aren't believable. Cities in Warcraft don't have residential housing, and while Vivec in Morrowind does, the entire city probably has only about a hundred homes. Peoples' houses don't have to be interactive or contribute anything to the game; they just have to be there. In fact, I could only come up with a couple games that did this well. Planescape: Torment and Baldur's Gate II did the "big city" thing quite well. Even though large areas of the city were inaccessible, they were still there, and it didn't feel like I was wandering around in some 0.01% of the city that the designers had time to implement; the design really made me feel like I was wandering around in a big city. Knights of the Old Republic did this very well for only the starting city; it really felt alive, with spacecraft in the air, people walking around, and visible other buildings in the distance.

Anyway, there's no real point to this post, other than to express mild dissatisfaction that games almost never seem to present believable large cities. It doesn't require a lot of extra work; it requires more creativity.


I really like knit boxers. They're really soft and stretchy and comfortable. Normal, uncomfortable cotton boxers are part of the reason that I wore briefs until toward the end of high school; I simply did not know such wonderful things as knit boxers existed. Their problems are twofold: first, they are weirdly hard to find. Second, you're supposed to wash them on the wimpiest washer/dryer settings. But, I basically never use anything but the "cold" and "cottons" settings on the washer and dryer, so they have a shorter lifespan than my normal clothing.

The point of that is that I need to shop for clothing sometime, not just underwear. But, that in itself would not really make a blog post, so I had to kind of pad it out a bit.


Wednesday, I learned the importance of thoroughly dampening one's hair before putting glue in it. The results of this lesson were sad.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Dawson's Creek

April 21, 9:57pm.

I got home just a few minutes ago. Now, I’m sitting here on the couch in my neighbor’s apartment. Within the past few minutes, my neighbor, “V,” came over in a panic explaining that she had to run to Seattle to pick up someone who was having an emergency. She didn’t go into the details, but she was very upset. So, she needed a babysitter, and that’s why I’m sitting on her couch with my laptop, for some reason unable to get an IP address from my router. It’s 10:02 now, and I don’t really have anything else to do. Her daughter is already asleep, so I guess that’s what my next step is. I’m just tired enough that I may actually be able to get to sleep at a couple minutes past 10.

Cute girl, parent out of the house, sleeping over… it’s like Dawson’s Creek or something.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

I don't know why I'm telling you this

One thing that, for some reason or another, brings me constant embarassment, is the fact that when I was in middle and high school, I would frequently make ridiculously elaborate borders and decorations on my papers. I'm sure this all stems from my love of doodling. I would add window frames (like, icons, min/max buttons, resize handles, etc.), geometric shapes, shading, draw little pipes connecting different parts of the page, and so forth. This must have looked so silly.


I really should get around to exercising more. I've gone to work out only slightly more times than I've ridden circus elephants since coming here. Back during my senior year I was consistently going three times a week. I could leg press the entire 495 pounds that the machine allowed. At least I haven't put on any weight since coming out here.

The problem is the perception that it's wasted time. My spare time is very valuable to me, and the perceived benefit of working out is extremely low. And, you know, maybe going more than once a week or so would be wasted time. I mean, depending on who you listen to, you're supposed to do moderate exercise something like three times a week, and light exercise the other four days. That's to be healthy. But, maybe it's not worth it being maximally healthy. That obviously sounds shortsighted, and it almost certainly is, but I've noticed that sometimes I put too much effort into a goal that isn't worth that effort, just because it's a goal, and you're supposed to work toward goals, right? This occurs in real life and in games. Effort includes time, and I've only got so much of that.

But, I think that getting in a few hours of hideous pain a week is worth it. If I can make some of that time serve dual purposes then it won't seem as bad. I can listen to some of my massive queue of unlistened new music while I'm lifting, and when I switch to aerobic I can watch some of my recorded TV and make that Portable Media Center a useful purchase. Scrubs and maybe even Malcolm in the Middle and Arrested Development could become my workout entertainment. I guess I might as well do something instead of just sitting on my ass. At the very least I could cross the road to use the apartment complex' equipment (which probably sucks). I've dreaded the walk to the health club just because that's another half hour (round trip) out of my day, or fifteen minutes on the Segway, and it just seems... unacceptable... to Segway to a health club, depite the fact that everyone else there drove.

Reese's Pieces

I wish Reese's Pieces were more popular than they are. I never see them in vending machines, and I rarely even see them in supermarkets in the rare situation when I find myself inside one. Because of this, I'm having my first Reese's Pieces in years. Maybe if Spielberg were to release an even more special edition of E.T. they'd be getting the attention they deserve.

Monday, April 18, 2005

User interface expo

Microsoft had an internal user interface demo day of sorts today. I went for an hour this afternoon, and while I was entertained, I was kind of disappointed that there weren't many exhibits on the tons of actual user interface research and development being done in the company. It was mostly a chance for teams that have made cool UI stuff to show off their work, and while I did see some cool stuff, it wasn't really an educational or inspiring experience, which was too bad.

I did get to see Aero Glass, or what I think is Aero Glass. (Aero Glass is the codename of the top tier hardware-accelerated, pixel-shaded new UI in Longhorn.) While it looks hot—I mean, I haven't seen UI anywhere that looks as sexy as what Longhorn looks right now—somehow, I was expecting more. Basically everything I saw when I was playing around with Longhorn I had seen before in screenshots, both internally and on public websites. Maybe there's still something even cooler in development, and I just saw the scaled-back version—I've seen screenshots of this stuff leaked recently, and people are always told that "no, this isn't Aero Glass; that looks even better." That would excite me. But, I guess I'm excited enough that Longhorn will look at least that good even when it hits beta, and it will probably be the best-looking software on the planet when it hits.

But that's enough fanboyism. While I didn't really learn about anything new, I did get to see some prototype keyboards and mice that never made it to market—apparently designs that were so cool and stylish that they didn't think that people would buy them. I also got to talk to one of the designers of the recent Microsoft keyboards, which was a treat, since I'm a big fan of Microsoft's keyboards. I told him that I love the new five-button delete/home/end/pgup/pgdn layout (no insert key), and he reluctantly informed me that I'm only in about a 2% minority of power users. He said something interesting: there are two groups who buy keyboards. The first one is the OEM. The other one is the power user. Normal consumers don't buy keyboards. So, developing cool new keyboards with innovative features isn't very profitable: the OEMs are usually willing to ship super-cheap keyboards because users don't ask for a good keyboard, and power users are extremely resistant to change, and aren't even willing to try a keyboard with a wonderful double-sized Delete key and no stupid Insert key in the way.

I also got to try out a notebook/tablet auxilliary display first-hand. (An auxilliary display is a small LCD on the outside case of a portable computer that operates even when the computer is shut down, for accessing your mail, music, and calendar.) I must have one of these on my next portable computer, assuming I ever buy another portable computer... I barely use the one I have now. But this thing was amazing. My main complaint is that there weren't dedicated controls for changing the music; they used the same buttons as accessing your mail and such, so changing the track may very well require a couple button presses, thus it wasn't quite as easy to control as a dedicated MP3 player.

So, even if it was more of a "show off cool designs" demo day than actually showing off user interface research like I expected, I still had a fun hour. There were quite a few people there, even after they were supposed to have closed, though I think some of them were there for the free bar...

Have an itch to scratch

After cleaning my shower, I decided to take a quick shower so I could wipe down the walls and get the cleaner off random parts of my body. I used Ajax. Now my feet itch. A lot.

Guess I should have rinsed better.

Hope and fear

I kinda hope my parents never stumble across this. That would just make my life easier.

Sunday, April 17, 2005


If there were such a thing as a blogorgy, I think that string of posts would qualify. I hope that makes up for several days of silence.

I'm going to sleep. Really, I am.

Doesn't bother me one bit

Recently I spent a good couple hours putting together a banner that I'm pretty proud of. (Perhaps I shouldn't be.) Most of you have seen it, but if you haven't, imagine a mosaic of everything sexual you can imagine, tastefully cropped and arranged so as to be safe for work. A cucumber, hot chicks making out, implied oral sex, a drag queen, hentai, two guys going at it, boxers around the ankles... it's all there. (Sadly, Tubgirl didn't make it into the final image.) ANYWAY, much as I expected, I got a few comments from people wondering how I managed to stomach all of those pictures.

I understand that most people aren't comfortable with sexual images and ideas that don't directly titillate them. What I don't understand is why. I just can't manage to put myself in their shoes. I wish I did. Graphic depictions of every configuration of bodies of any and all genders don't bother me. I'm much more creeped out by the picture that someone sent me of someone biting a popsicle, after I mentioned that I couldn't stand the sight of that. I guess a normal straight guy must feel the same way about seeing a photo of a man pleasuring another man that I do about seeing an eight-year-old girl biting into a frozen confection. I wonder what causes that kind of response in people.

I wonder a lot. It seems to happen even more when it's past time for me to go to bed, which makes it even harder for me to fall asleep. I wonder why that is.

Bonus content—other things that elicit similar reactions in me: That scene in American History X where the man's teeth are placed on the curb. Touching flower blossoms. The smell of cat poop.


A few weeks ago I had a couple fillings. The cavities weren't completely my fault; they were caused by my wisdom teeth, which were mashing my other teeth together and damaging them. But, they were my first ones. I no longer have basically-perfect teeth. This makes me sadder than it probably should. I feel like a failure. I lost the game of teeth. Now, I'm dramatizing a bit there; no need to send me a touching Hallmark card just yet. But, It's something that I'm going to have to live with my whole life. I kind of feel like I just said something really awful that I should have kept to myself... something like, "Hey, Travis, can we talk? My grandma just died." "Oooooh, owned!" Just some general feeling that something isn't quite right.

This post is directly related to my previous post in my mind. I typed "rope," thought of floss, thought of how my floss got stuck beneath my filling a few days ago, naturally making me think of my recent cavities.

Oh, and speaking of grandma dying, a coworker sent out mail to the team on Friday that she was going to work from home because her hard drive was completely hosed. I sent her an email back saying that "hosed" should be used more generally to describe the death of things. Like, "I'm sorry, Billy, but your grandma got hosed," or "John F. Kennedy Owned by Sniper."


I don't know how much longer I can keep that picture up (the "we love the moon" one). I may be reaching the end of my tolerance rope.

I place blame squarely on you, the reader

Whenever I go more than about 36 hours without posting (sometimes less), I begin to get IMs urging me to say something. This got me thinking... I wonder why it is that I always find things to talk about right before I'm ready to go to bed. I came up with two possibilities.

1. Interesting things have been happening to me all day long, and I finally finish processing and reflecting upon them by the end of the day.

2. Days actually do go by without anything all that interesting actually happening to me, but by the end of the day, my mind is so much of a soupy mush that my quality bar has been set dangerously low, allowing me to post things that I would otherwise consider too stupid to post... but posts nonetheless.

I wonder which one this is. Judging by the disheartening number of my posts that are really just unfinished musings (inevitably incurring flack from some reader that wished I had written more or more clearly or not at all since I'm an idiot), it's probably the latter. Maybe I'll figure it out as I'm lying sleeplessly in bed for an hour.

Demon Days

Through the magic and wonder of AOL Instant Messenger, a RAR file containing the Gorillaz album Demon Days appeared on my desktop today. I was so happy; I didn't know they had put another one together. If I had to choose a registered trademark to describe it, I guess I'd have to pick "I'm lovin' it." It's quirky and cool and fun and has at least one track combining a children's choir, synth strings, an electronic background, and rap. Dennis Hopper (don't worry; I had to IMDB him too) stars in one particularly wacky track, Fire Coming Out of a Monkey's Head. Anyway, it's weird, interesting music that's not so interesting that it's unpleasant, like some of the other "interesting" music I have, like Aphex Twin.

Dennis Hopper has a kickass voice. I always like unique voices. If we had the technology to actually mimic someone's voice for text-to-speech synthesis, I would probably spend a portion of each day listening to people with great voices saying stupid things that I typed into Word.

Irrelevant sidetracks aside, I think that I like this album a little better than Gorillaz' first album, based on only about a listen and a half. I cannot wait until it arrives at my apartment in disc form. But, their best track is still Clint Eastwood.

There was crack on the corner
and someone dead
and fire coming out of a monkey's head


I awoke this morning (well, noon) so stuffed up that I was completely unable to breathe through my nose. I always find this a bit disconcerting. I always hear that you'll wake up if you stop breathing while you're sleeping (seems like a reasonable self-preservation precaution), but it still kinda freaks me out.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Must have been home-schooled

It's kind of strange sitting at lunch and hearing someone who's got at least a decade on you asking how hard liquor differs from wine or beer, and what everclear is. I mean, even I know those things.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Favorite people

I wish I had better terminology to describe relationships with people. Putting aside for the moment the differences between best friends, good friends, friends, light friends, favored acquaintances, acquaintances, nemeses, and so forth, there's still the matter of rate of change. For example, you could have recently met someone and want to spend all of your time with them but they wouldn't be your best friend, or you could have a long-time best friend with whom your relationship is very stable, or you could have an old flame with whom your friendship is starting to dwindle. I guess our only option is to express levels of friendship as equations over the variable t. f(t) would be defined for all t >= 0, and would represent your level of friendship on a scale of -10 (archnemesis) to +10 (best friend) at a point in time t weeks from now. So, if you just met someone the night before and fell madly in love, you could say that they were a "5 + 5t" friend, and that best friend from middle school that you haven't talked to in half a decade could be a "7 - 0.08t" friend. I expect that people will convert to using this system at the same time that they start fully parenthesizing their written communications and start using the metric system.

(Of course, the linear equations are meant only for informal communication. In formal communication, such as love letters, one should probably present something a bit more polynomial that will actually become asymptotic on the axis f = 10.)

All ridiculousness aside, though, I really do wish I had more descriptive terminology to use to talk and write about the various people that matter in my life. Basically right now I have to use "friend," "good friend," or if they don't qualify for either of those, some other vague word that sort of describes them but not the actual state of our relationship.


Something very annoying happened yesterday. I was making eggs, and I reached in to pick up the first one, and it was stuck in the carton. So, I applied light pressure to the side to try to loosen it up, and as you may have figured out by now, it exploded, spilling its awful goo over several other eggs, the carton, and the stove. Now I have a glass bowl of freshly-washed eggs in my fridge.

Monday, April 11, 2005

Increasingly extreme

I had a can of Mountain Dew for the first time in months today. The new Mountain Dew cans look somewhere between neat and cheesy. They keep trying to make it more eXXXtreme each year. Next year it's going to be covered in sharp metal spikes and contain more jagged bits of metal in each can than an entire box of Krusty-Os.

Garlic fries

On a lighter note (though not based on calorie content), garlic fries. These things are delicious. They're exactly what they sound like: regular fries with crushed garlic sprinkled on top and mixed in.

Limited user accounts, response

I decided that this comment response was probably too long to leave in the comments section. Plus, this way, it makes it seem like new content! (Warning: this will be even less interesting to you if you didn't care about my last post on user accounts.)

"There is a lot of development that you just can't do without an administrative account..."

I was specifically thinking about developing software that requires administrative access to run, which in the grand scheme of things isn't really that much, I guess, but includes some things like shell extensions, system services, drivers, setup programs, and so forth. You can't really develop something that requires admin access to run without being an admin. Some of those things could have been architected in such a way that they didn't need administrative access, most notably shell extensions. The decision to make working with shell extensions require admin powers was a decision that made a lot of sense a decade ago, and is somewhat questionable but not crazy today. There's also the case of developing shared system files—you don't need administrative access to build them, but you're eventually going to need it to test things outside of your sandbox. Of course, shared system files are getting a little passé, and that's a whole different topic. Anyway...

So there are a couple reasons that development tools might require an administrative account, but as you say, in general, they shouldn't, and it sucks that VS does. As far as I can tell, this has been changed for Visual Studio 2005, and you can now do all of your "normal" development with a limited user account. It's not something that really had a lot of user requests until recently; developers usually owned (either literally or figuratively) their boxes, and they're the kind of people who wanted full control. Even when it's no longer "necessary" to be an admin to use Visual Studio, I still think a lot of people are going to do it. I always run as admin. Out of the five computers I really ever use, I run as an administrator on each one. Running as an administrator gives me maximum power with minimum hassle, and at home, I basically don't have a choice, because I want to run games.

Overall, this is still an area where Microsoft as a whole is doing better than the average—but the Windows team is certainly not helping to increase that average. I still think they are going to have to make it annoying enough to use software that requires admin access and shouldn't such that people who write that software are compelled to do things right. I guess that's kind of like hurting the user in the short run (because I never had to type my admin password to run WoW on XP, but now I do on Longhorn?) to help them in the long run (so that Blizzard will make sure that WoW II doesn't require admin rights).

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Limited user accounts

One of the things that Linux fanboys love to mock Windows for is how users are administrators by default, and it's true; just about everyone runs as an administrator if they can (home machines, enthusiasts, developers). It's also true that Microsoft could have made limited accounts the default in Windows XP, and they didn't. This is one of those decisions that I'm not that sure about. It's the fine line that Microsoft always has to walk between compatibility and security. If they made limited user accounts the default, then a lot of stuff wouldn't work. Slashdotters seem to love to bring this up. But this isn't Microsoft's fault. Making programs require administrative privileges was acknowledged to be bad a decade ago, and Microsoft started really trying to get developers to make the easy changes to make their programs work in a multiuser environment seven or eight years ago. Microsoft's software works really well in this regard; you have to be an administrator to install it, but Office works extremely well with multiple users. Visual Studio is probably the worst example; prior to VS2005, Visual Studio didn't really operate under a non-admin account at all. I'm much more willing to forgive VS, though, being a developer tool. There is a lot of development that you just can't do without an administrative account, so it's not as bad.

But that's no excuse for new software like World of Warcraft. (See how it manages to make it into almost every post?) World of Warcraft still puts user files under C:\Program Files. This has been unacceptable since before it started development. Most games are guilty of this; games are tested as games, not as applications, and it usually shows up in a lack of quality in almost everything not related to advertising or the gameplay experience. Command & Conquer Generals almost made me wet myself when I saw that it stored its per-user data in My Documents. My Documents isn't really the correct place for this either (should be C:\Documents and Settings\username), and they used a ridiculous folder name, but it's still better than putting things in Program Files.

But developers only do this because they run as administrators. They run as administrators because Visual Studio and other development tools require them to. I don't know what Microsoft needs to do to fix this. I think that they've shown that they can focus on security even if it breaks stuff with XP SP2, and because of it, I think that they're probably going to make non-admin accounts the default in Longhorn. I think that Microsoft needs to be less forgiving of stupid software developers. If developers see that users have to see a stupid "enter administrator password to continue" dialog every time they want to play the game, they'll change quickly.


I'm currently using a Canadian keyboard, with the keys remapped to their "proper" US QWERTY layout. The only noticeable difference now is that the backslash key now exists to the left of Enter (Entrée), and between Shift and Z. That's right, two backslash keys. I'll have to see if I can get used to this strange layout. Otherwise, I'm only out $15 for two of them (I got them specifically so I could have the same keyboard layout at home and at work). :)

Why do Canadians need a mu key? Do Canadians type mu so much that they need a mu key? It's AltCar+M on this keyboard.

Deforestation and gold mining

You know, for a game with "Warcraft" in the title, there isn't much gold mining to be seen in World of Warcraft. There's a bit of deforestation by the Venture Co., but they're the bad guys to both factions. The Horde and the Alliance do have a few lumber camps; it really seems like they should actually be collecting lumber, though, and not just standing around. I guess collecting gold and lumber aren't huge priorities during a ceasefire, which is why you always have to do so much of it at the last minute when you're building your base.

My roof!

Six hours ago I burned the roof of my mouth from split-second contact with some particularly hot mashed potatoes. Man, and I thought that fresh pizza sticking to the roof of your mouth hurt... I'm still definitely feeling this one.

Saturday, April 9, 2005

Viva la Mojo

I just got back from the Mariners game. Had a pretty good time. The first two-thirds of the game were kinda boring (luckily, anything can be fun depending on your company), but it picked up at the end, and it came down to the Mariners' star player to tie the game with the last pitch. Sadly, he didn't make it.

Not something I'd want to do on a regular basis, but amusing nonetheless. Board games and video games are still more entertaining to watch.

Big sports fan

I never did go to a Husker football game. Perhaps I should see one next time I come back, before I stop thinking of myself as a Nebraskan and instead a Washingtonian. But, then again, I don't anticipate that for a while.

Friday, April 8, 2005

It IS delivery

I just had a DiGiorno's pizza delivered. Eat that, advertising industry!

I'd be more insistent on gloating if it had tasted better. Pretty bland, and it left an unpleasant taste in my mouth.

I heart macros

How did I take so many computer science classes without finding out about this?

#define NumberFunction(number) inline static const int Return##number##() { return number; }

This C++ macro allows you to easily create functions that return a particular integer. For example, you could then use code like this:

NumberFunction(2) create two functions, Return1 and Return2, which return the integers 1 and 2 respectively. Obviously, this isn't a useful example, but it shows something cool that I didn't realize that you could do with macros—include the actual text of the macro parameter in the name of something else. I'm using this in my code to create a list of what are essentially pairs of constants both on the same value (something like ValueA and ValueB), and it really helped to simplify the code. The downside, of course, is that no one can read the code without looking at the macros first.

Macros are something that some C-lovers love, and some C-lovers abhor. I'm not by any means a C-lover, and I rather like them—they're probably the one thing from C++ that I wish I had in VB and C# and Java. BUT, there are some definite limitations to my love for macros. (1) Don't use macros to change the semantics of the language. For example, the COM macro STDMETHODIMP changes the way that you have to declare a function! That's stupid. (2) Comment your macros well; just as well as you would a function. Hopefully your macro is simple enough that this isn't even really necessary, but do it anyway. (3) Avoid using macros inside of functions. If you can use a macro inside of another function, you should probably just write an inline function instead of a macro.

But, I still don't like C++.

My boring piece of history

According to Daniel, I was the first person in history to send an email to someone in the town of San José de Chiquitos from outside Bolivia. If I make one mark on history, let it be that.

Of course, it's certainly possible that someone might have brought their own satellite equipment or something. But, I'll just ignore that possibility.

Thursday, April 7, 2005

With an accent and a lisp

I think that this one guy on the Project team is the most metrosexual man I've ever encountered. I've seen him at the Starbucks stand on my way to the cafeteria every day this week, I think. You'd say "metrosexual" if you saw him even before you saw the latté.

One reason to get a roommate

At lunch today...

E: (complaining about the price of housing)
A: You could always get a roommate.
E: No... see, I want to walk around naked, and I want to watch porn. I like listening to loud music. I play guitar.
A: Oh, wow; can I be your roommate?
P: Yeah, hope you like bestiality videos.

Nice to see that not everyone in the company was turned into a Political Correctness Nazi by the sensitivity training.

I like to talk

Heh, and I thought I wouldn't have anything to post about today. For some reason, people seem to like it when I'm talkative. I don't know why. Or, perhaps they're all just leading me on. If that's the case, then you're just bringing this upon yourselves. I wash my hands of this.

Knowing that there are people interested in what I say, no matter how inane, who get upset when I don't have anything to say, is pretty hot. It strokes my already rather puffy ego just the right way.

Nemeses, response

I've been thinking a little about my previous post titled "My nemeses." I can understand frustration—everyone's frustrated sometimes. One idea that came to mind to possibly explain some peoples' tendency just to send me emails with essentially just the message "I have a problem" is that it would be an acceptable way to start a conversation. If I were to go into someone's office to ask them how to show the Data Source Catalog task pane in FrontPage, I might introduce myself with "I have a problem." Of course, then I would go into more detail; it's unreasonable to expect someone to do all of the work of helping you themselves. Perhaps this person just doesn't understand their communication medium. Maybe they don't understand that letters and emails do not work like phone calls or in-person conversations. Maybe this distinction that seems so obvious to me is not obvious to the rest of the world. But, even after all that, there's no excuse for the way that this person has essentially failed to respond to anything in any of my replies, but rather to just rehash the same message to me three times. These are the times when I don't like doing technical support. I like helping people, and I like getting feedback on my work, and I like hearing that I helped some family who had recently fallen onto bad times make a free, unique mother's day gift for Mom. But I hate it when communication fails. I hate it when it's my fault, either for stumbling over words or mixing up my sentences or just not getting my point across. I hate it at least as much when it's not my fault and I can't do anything about it or really learn from it.

Wednesday, April 6, 2005

Snow Patrol revisited

I still love the album Final Straw by Snow Patrol, and I play it quite a bit at work. I recently imported their first two CDs (Songs for Polarbears and When It's All Over We Still Have to Clear Up, never released in the US) from the UK, and I have to say that I'm not nearly as impressed. Had I heard either of those first, I probably wouldn't have given Final Straw a chance. Final Straw is a 5-star CD. The first two are merely okay.

I still haven't been able to make myself want a media library for my music. I still prefer just using Explorer to manage things.

I'm "down to" 30 CDs that I've purchased but not yet listened to (other than, perhaps, a quick taste). It's quite convenient having such a large queue of new music for rainy days. (That's gonna be a lot of days here pretty soon.)

Saving for retirement

Saving for retirement and all ancilliary activities are just about the most boring thing I can imagine. At least, the most boring thing that I actually would find myself doing. It's just unpleasant. I have a financial advisor right now (not a permanent deal) to tell me how much I should save each month for retirement, so that makes things pretty simple. I'm sure I could have figured it out myself, but it helped to get some advice. Anyway, that's not so bad, I guess. It's trying to think about getting a house and a car eventually that just dunks me into the tank of I-don't-care. I guess I have an advantage over some people; since there's no one else in my life, I can just save however much or little I want for these things, and it's less important that I save at least $X each month into this configuration of accounts to meet my goals. I was getting so happy with the extreme flexibility of having a huge pile of cash come in each month, and now that's going to end. I've started buying stock, contributing to a 401(k), and I just put $2,500 into a Roth IRA tonight. Soon I'm going to have to start saving up for a car fund, and I'll be down to a hundred or two bucks of disposable income a month. I mean, it still puts me in a good situation financially, but having so much of my money predestined to go far, far away each month is sad.

Positive ID required

Have you ever noticed that a lot of checks, especially rebate checks, say "positive ID required" somewhere on them? I wonder if that's enforceable. I've put a lot of them into deposit boxes and ATMs and have never had to actually present any positive ID.

My nemeses

Okay, here's another email I received just now:
I have been trying everything I've read here relating to this program for over
an hour, and still cannot get this program to start. I thnk your directions
so far are extremely hard to follow.
Okay, so, minor spelling error aside, those are complete, valid sentences. Though I don't think that my directions are particularly complicated, that's not the problem. The problem is that this person could not possibly have been thinking, "the text I am writing will help someone diagnost my problem!" They even provided some useful feedback—apparently, my directions suck. But one thing that I cannot understand about apparently normal people is this complete lack of skill at communicating something very basic. They have a problem. But, rather than telling someone (me) what their problem is, they just tell me, "it's hard." It's as if they were to call 911 and just keep saying "I need help!" over and over again, except this time, the person is just trying to install software from the internet, and they presumably didn't just witness something traumatic like someone being brutally stabbed or shot or set on fire.

Now, sometimes, you just want to complain about something. If that's the case, you don't need to be too specific, though it obviously helps. If I get a ton of email from people saying that the directions suck (I don't), then I'll rewrite them. Of course, it helps to know why they suck, but just knowing that they do is helpful. But, this person obviously wants my help. They've been trying for an hour; they wouldn't do that and then send an email not expecting to be helped out.


UPDATE—just got this reply:
I have downloaded all the pages, but I don't know how to get to the start page, so that I can make a puzzle. How doI create the puzzle I want to create. HELP!!

We're talking, of course, about the Start button.

[...] I'm not really stupid, I just can't find it.

I teach beginners computers to a senior class, so I''m not computer illiterate [...]

Tuesday, April 5, 2005


Hmmm. I really want to play Doom 3: Resurrection of Evil. But, my time is pretty much booked for the next few months. Obviously, I need more time.

Monday, April 4, 2005

Out of the blue

Back last fall, I did a little work for a very large textbook and educational materials company, but was never paid. The person there I was working with stopped returning my emails and calls a few days before my deadline. After a month or so, I finally gave up. I even thought about ranting about it on my blog a few months ago. And then today, I received a check in the mail from this company for the full amount, about half a year late. At this point it's practically free money, because I had forgotten that I even did that work for them, and didn't figure that it was worth the $250 to try to work the red tape any longer. So, yay.

The dark side of honesty

At lunch today...

Hessan: So, I was at the supermarket...
Alex: Are you ever...
Hessan: You first.
Alex: No, you go ahead.
Hessan: Mine's just a story. You go first.
Alex: No, don't worry about it. I was just going to make fun of you.

More wire hangers!

I've been having a ridiculously hard time finding thick, vinyl-coated wire hangers. Why does everybody seem to like plastic hangers? I hate them. They're flimsy and weird.


Being pretty busy at work, combined with World of Warcraft, are causing my apartment to become gradually dirtier. This makes me sad.

Educated stupid should really have an RSS feed so I can stay on top of the latest developments in Cubism. I completely missed this:
All Creation occurs between Opposites. On Earth between opposite hemispheres, and for humans, opposites sexes. The 2 opposite sexes equate to 2 separate Cubes, as if dice of femininity and masculinity - equating Human Life to a Crap-Shoot chance of exciting lifetime possibilities. Academic and religious taught singularity creation deserves a coming horrific hell.

That damned bunny

Hmmm. Nestlé Strawberry Quik sounds pretty good right now. But, I don't keep milk around the house, and I really doubt that I want an entire can of it. Maybe I'll see if they sell single-serving packets or something like that, and take advantage of the free milk at work.

Sore from all of the right-clicking

Just thought I'd keep you informed about the latest developments in my love life.

Well, thanks for listening!

Crime scene

I should just put yellow police tape around my kitchen and never go in. I had this great idea that I was going to combine curry, garlic, onion, black beans, and rice into a concoction that I would name "Anal Explosion with Rice." I don't know what's wrong with me. It was not delicious, and now I have a stomachache.

Technical support

I got some tech support gems this weekend:


Can you tell me how to use TWO words instead of one? For instance, how would I work William Shakespeare?

i want to download the crossword for my project. I need the crossword download before tuesday, April 5, 2005

Sunday, April 3, 2005

Whiteboard compilation fun

As I sit here waiting for FrontPage to compile, I thought I'd share some of the things on our whiteboards:

QuiznosSoup soup1 = new QuiznosSoup();
Soup soup2 = (Soup) soup1; // throws exception
[This is because, according to a sign there, "It's not soup. It's Quizno's soup."]

There is also an induction proof for (n^x - 1) / (n - 1) = Sum(i = 0 to x - 1; n^i).

...and, some things that I can't tell you about because the bad people will come for me.

So bright

My officemate was pretty excited today to see that we could see a tiny sliver of natural light from our office as the sun began to set. Later on, there was a whole stripe of natural light on the doorframe, and we almost screamed. Then he said, "I'm glad I don't have a window office, because it would probably be too bright to work."