Thursday, December 25, 2008

The Sokal Affair

Merry Christmas! The holidays aren't a big deal to me, but time off from work is always nice. The holidays make me miss my sister, though.

But depressing thoughts aside, I stumbled across this interesting incident where a physicist got a joke article published as an experiment to see if the journal would do it. It makes me feel a bit better than those pretentious, convoluted articles really are what they seem to be sometimes.

On top of that, recently, some folks used a computer science paper generator called SCIgen to get a paper into the IEEE database.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Cold

Why does my typing get so much worse when it's cold???

But yeah, I like the cold weather even though I'm a wimp to cold weather. It's just nice to have some rain and col for a change once in a while. ;)

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Edsger Dijkstra

I recently stumbled across this archive of Edsger Dijkstra's work. This guy is a legend* of computer science. He was so adamant that computer science should be taught as something independent of actual computers that he himself never owned a computer (the site contains a number of pdf manuscripts... literally hand written). This is one of his works in which he discusses why the common approach to teaching computer science is bad. It might not be an appealing read for non computer scientists, but as someone who is interested in teaching (possibly computer science), I found it to be very interesting.

*Dijkstra's Algorithm (a core approach to finding the shortest route between two points on a graph), and a letter condemning GOTO statements are known to the vast majority of current computer scientists.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Isaac Asimov's Foundation As A Movie?

I stumbled across this article talking about Isaac Asimov's Foundation series being made into a trilogy for the big screen. Asimov is probably my favorite science fiction writer of all time, so this could be good news.

The comparison with Lord of the Rings is very fitting, though. When trying to adapt such an amazing story for movie theaters, it's a nearly impossible task to capture the essence of the books and condense it into a couple of hours of screen time. I sincerely hope they don't mess up this one (like the other crappy Asimov story adaptations they mention).

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Personal Space

I feel like my roommate likes to stick his nose in my business a little too much sometimes. He happened to come to my room to show me some computer stuff and noticed I was writing that previous post so made a comment about how he didn't know I had a blog. It's really not any of his business if I have a blog or not. If I wanted him to know I had a blog, I would have told him about it. I would have thought that was pretty obvious.

I don't particularly like knowing if or who reads what I write. I have too much of a tendency to be cautious about how people I know will react, which completely defeats the purpose of having a place to write freely.

He promised to respect my privacy, so I hope he does. Otherwise, this blog will die. I used to have other blogs or websites where too many people I knew were aware of it. Eventually, I felt too constrained to write there anymore for fear of hurting people's feelings or just plain revealing things to everybody I know. My dad still has my old webpage from college bookmarked on his computer... as if I've written anything on that page in like 7 years.

I still hate blogs just because of how people develop this strange obsession with them. Either the writer starts developing expectations that certain people will read the blog, or the readers start expecting certain things of the writer. I'd rather this blog be a place where I can write or not write and it doesn't matter. I also don't want readers to have some sort of expectations of me.

I'm contemplating writing on this awesome site called everything2 instead of writing here. It's a mind boggling concept for a site. Every piece of writing is a node and nodes contain links to other related nodes. The network of nodes actually learns what's relevant and good based on how people visit and move among the nodes. That's about the coolest way to organize a large quantity of writing I've ever heard of. It's rather intimidating, so I'm probably going to explore the site for a while before attempting to contribute anything meaningful.

P.E.T.A Uses Video Game To Deter Meat Consumption

It makes me happy to see that video games can be used to promote socially progressive notions. P.E.T.A. has a brutal, flash version of the famous "Cooking Mama" game on their website just in time for Thanksgiving.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Newsweek's "Secrets of the 2008 Campaign"

Newsweek did an amazing seven-part series of articles looking behind the scenes of John McCain's and Barack Obama's campaigns.

1. "How He Did It"
2. "Back From The Dead"
3. "The Long Siege"
4. "Going Into Battle"
5. "Center Stage"
6. "The Great Debates"
7. "The Final Days"

Lame Ducks

This whole lull period between an election and the newly elected officials taking office has such a strange atmosphere. In general, there's a bit of a feeling that the important stuff will be what happens at the beginning of next year. I suppose that our government never moves all that quickly, but it's like molasses solidifying now.

The last week since Barack Obama won the next presidency has been wonderful. Americans have regained some standing overseas. There's almost a sense of eagerness and anticipation to see what Obama will do to fix everybody's problems. Obama may have the most powerful office in the land, but he's not omnipotent. I hope people realize that our problems will take time to fix and Congress needs to cooperate.

Alas, though, crunch is starting at work again this coming week, so I'll be absorbed into day to day matters again.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

President-Elect Barack Obama

This has been an amazing election and I'm glad Barack Obama will be our next president. I hope John McCain goes back to being the John McCain of 2000 instead of selling out to the far right in order to secure their votes.

The difference in what the two tickets inspire was strongly evident in their speeches tonight. John McCain's crowd contained the negative, divisive elements of our country. They boo-ed Barack Obama and even Sarah Palin. Barack Obama's party cheered and was genuinely supportive of Obama's message of unity.

I really can't help feeling like we have just witnessed a major turning point in American history. This man can inspire us like very few leaders have been able to.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Legend of the Seeker

I remember seeing ads for this new TV show called "Legend of the Seeker" and thinking that it sounded a bit like the book Wizard's First Rule by Terry Goodkind. I never really investigated till I coincidentally saw part of the first episode on TV today and realized "Hey, that's a quad attacking Kahlann!"

Wizard's First Rule is one of my favorite Fantasy novels of recent times and I'm really glad they chose this book to make a television series out of. On top of that, there are advantages to it being a TV series instead of a movie. If they had gone with compressing a book like this into a two hour movie, it would have been terrible.

From what I saw, it looked like it was fairly well done, but Kahlann's hair is supposed to be much longer. This wouldn't be a big deal, but in that world, the social status of women is indicated by their hair length and she's supposed to be even higher status than a queen.

I doubt I'll keep up with this show while it's airing, but I'll probably binge on it when it's done (like I usually do with TV shows I like).

Palin Preparing For Next Election....

It's pretty ridiculous how Sarah Palin is the bigger name on their ticket. They had a rally in Florida where John McCain's name wasn't visible at all. Palin is clearly building up her own reputation instead of worrying about winning this election with McCain.

Friday, October 31, 2008

California Proposition 8

Here's a nice little ad against California Proposition 8 (the attempt to amend the state constitution to make gay marriage unconstitutional):

The California Constitution really is beautiful, eh? haha.

New Version Of Chrome

Wow, just as I was commenting that the new browser wars were resulting in some serious improvements in web browsing, Google released a new version of Chrome.

Latest Chrome version: Total: 837.4ms +/- 1.3%

This convincingly gives Chrome the Javascript performance lead in SunSpider.

Competition is awesome for the consumer because in the end we get a better product. =)

Google Chrome Vs Firefox 3.1 (Minefield)

The browser wars are pushing browser technology to progress much faster than before. For example, a lot of work has been put into boosting JavaScript performance. Under Google Chrome or Firefox 3.1 (Minefield), web pages load incredibly quickly. One of the industry standard JavaScript benchmarks is SunSpider. This is a side by side comparison of the two running on my computer:

Google Chrome: Total: 1138.8ms +/- 0.9%
Firefox 3.1 (Minefield): Total: 984.6ms +/- 1.4%

You can see that Firefox is overall just over 10% faster than Chrome on this particular benchmark. Both of these versions are beta status.

For reference:
Firefox 3.1 Minefield) (JIT off to simulate slightly older versions of Firefox): Total: 1899.6ms +/- 0.7%
Internet Explorer 7: Total: 23412.2ms +/- 2.4%

Both Chrome and Firefox 3.1 are over 20x faster than Internet Explorer 7 at JavaScript in this benchmark. That's a pretty big improvement over last generation browsers. ;)

Thursday, October 30, 2008

To All You Conservatives Out There

I found this interesting list of the top ten reasons conservatives should vote for Obama. It's written by Andrew Sullivan and has some pretty good reasons in it.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Another Big Endorsement

In the last week, we've seen Barack Obama pick up the endorsement of influential Republicans such as Colin Powell and Scott McClellan. Now the Anchorage Daily News has written up a very nice article explaining why they endorse Barack Obama. Yes, Anchorage is the biggest city in Sarah Palin's home state, meaning that's the biggest newspaper in Alaska.

Bush's former secretary of state, Bush's former press secretary, and Alaska's biggest newspaper make quite an impressive list of endorsements for Obama.

FiveThirtyEight has McCain's chances of winning at under 5% again. This does not mean Democrats should get complacent. It means by continuing to push hard, Obama will likely win.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Supporting Evidence on Palin

She's apparently going "rogue" and causing some internal problems within the McCain campaign. Honestly, choosing her as his running mate was one of McCain's biggest mistakes. You can clearly see her personality of being incompetent but not understanding her own incompetence and thinking she knows better than her experienced handlers.

Incompetence, Perceiving It, And Politics

I love the field of psychology. It gives so much insight into the way people around us behave on a daily basis. I stumbled across and article discussing the relationship between incompetence, the ability to perceive incompetence and how it applies to politics.

One of the main marketing points the Republican Party has been playing on is how the Democrats are "elitist." They push for candidates similar to George W. Bush, who are very incompetent by any objective measures that I can conceive of.

The article discusses how the most incompetent people overestimate their own skills the most and underestimate the skills of others the most. This applies perfectly to Sarah Palin. Her attitude of "my way is the right way" shows this basic tendency to not realize her own shortcomings and to believe that other people's way is wrong.

The article also discusses how the most competent people accurately estimate their own skills but somewhat overestimate the skills of others. This applies perfectly to Barack Obama. He has the attitude that he can work with others because he believes they they are capable of coming to an agreement with each other.

When given the choice of these two types of mindsets, I think it's pretty clear which mindset I would prefer leading our country.

I would have liked to have drawn a comparison between Barack Obama and John McCain, however, I don't think John McCain is nearly as incompetent as Sarah Palin (aside from him choosing Palin as his running mate). The comparison with Palin is still important, however, because there is a very legitimate chance that Sarah Palin might become president if John McCain is elected, given his age and history of cancer.

Windows XP 64

As a programmer and a person very much in favor of open source software and such geeky causes, I was very torn on what operating system to install when I upgraded my computer. On one hand, I had any of the many flavors of Linux. On the other hand, I had the Microsoft Windows family.

Linux was the obvious choice in many ways. You can't beat the price point of being totally free. It has come a long way from the last time I ran it on my personal computer in terms of usability, hardware support, and diversity of applications.

The Windows family of course has numerous drawbacks. It's expensive, closed source, and bloated (not that Linux isn't a bit bloated at this point). Of course the biggest pro in favor of Windows is simply that all applications work on Windows.

In the end, my decision had to come down to the one deciding factor of making sure everything just worked. One of my friends wants to develop a small game on the side at home and some of the possibilities came down to Windows only tools. For example, Microsoft released an API to develop Xbox Live games for home users. I'd bet the odds are that it would take a lot of effort to get it to work on Linux, if it's possible at all.

After giving in to the dark side, I was left with choosing a version of Windows. As much as I wanted to believe that Windows Vista might be a viable option, in the end, I had to choose Windows XP over Vista. It's simply much more efficient.

Additionally, I wanted to move to a 64-bit operating system because computers are now hitting the 4 GB address space limitation of 32-bit operating systems. Plus, it's a shame that the 64-bit processing capabilities of my last computer were completely ignored because I still ran a 32-bit operating system.

That's how I settled on Windows XP 64. I'm not all that pleased with still running Windows, but I do have to admit that my computer is fast and rock solid. I did have to blow $150 to get a legal license for it, but I don't regret it yet.

Friday, October 24, 2008

What A Crazy Election

(no blog posts on most of the stuff that's been going on since I've been pretty busy with work and other things. e.g. I upgraded my computer's motherboard, cpu, ram, and video card, which ate up a bunch of time reinstalling stuff)

Even after all the crazy things that have happened so far, I do believe that this is the first American Presidential election where the endorsement of terrorist groups has come into play.

Al Qaeda supporters back John McCain as the choice more favorable to their goals.

At the moment, though, Five Thirty Eight has Obama with a significant lead, so if all goes well, Al Qaeda will be disappointed.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Leaked Simpsons Segment On Election

http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=f7d_1222962429 Even The Simpsons gets into this year's Presidential election.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

The Real Differences Between Liberals And Conservatives

http://www.ted.com/index.php/talks/jonathan_haidt_on_the_moral_mind.html

This is a very interesting lecture discussing the fundamental differences in the liberal and conservative ways of thought in terms of moral psychology.

Sadly, this last segment is all stuff that I've recommended to my friends on many occasions as common sense. I just wish more people understood.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Thankfully There Are Still Sane Republicans

Some Republicans are finally seeing what a terrible Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin is. I think both parties should look at things objectively so we can come to an agreement that Sarah Palin is not a good Vice Presidential candidate.

Stop being blinded by party lines.

Presidential Debate 1 - Lie Tally

We won't get into the stupid drama of McCain trying to chicken out of the first debate to try to prevent the inept Palin from having to debate Biden in the Vice Presidential debate. However, the Presidential debate did happen as planned and it was intense. Both politicians made a few misstatements and downright lies.

http://www.factcheck.org/elections-2008/factchecking_debate_no_1.html

Here's the scorecard: Downright lies are worth 2 points, misstatements are worth 1 point. It's a little subjective what is a downright lie, but here we go.

Kissinger and preconditions: McCain: 2.
Downright lie because Kissinger was quoted as saying exactly what Obama said he was.

Obama and raising taxes in the past on people who make $42000 a year: Obama: 2, McCain: 1.
Obama lied about voting on the bill. McCain however, still overall made a misstatement in that that wasn't the full story of the bill.

Troop withdrawal timetables: McCain: 1.
He mischaracterized the statement by the general as being specifically critical about Obama's plan.

Earmarks increasing: McCain: 2.
Flat out lie since it's the opposite of the truth.

Bear study: McCain: 2.
If it's so bad, why did McCain not attempt to remove the specific $3 million dollar to study bears from the bill.

Iraqi surplus: Obama: 1.
Obama's number was off by like 30%. He's right there's a surplus though.

Buying foreign oil: McCain: 1.
His number is off by like 40%

Obama's tax cut: Obama: 1.
His plan would lower taxes for 95% of families with children. Only 81% overall.

Employers taxed for healthcare: Obama: 1.
Employees themselves pay the tax, which, sounds even worse to me.

Obama's universal healthcare: McCain: 2.
McCain totally mischaracterizes Obama's plan as taking away people's right to choose.

McCain on Eisenhower: McCain: 1.
Misremembered the quote.

Obama on troop withdrawals: Obama: 1.
Has been quoted saying differently. Maybe he's softened his stance?

Obama and Iran: McCain: 2
Flat out lie about Obama's stance.

McCain on Russia and Georgia: McCain: 1
McCain may disagree with Obama, but it's not fair to say Obama's naive when that's the White House's stance as well.

McCain on Boeing: McCain: 1
McCain's motivations were not exactly clear in this.

McCain on Obama and nuclear waste: McCain: 2
Flat out lie on Obama's stance.

McCain's stance on alternative energy: Obama: 1, McCain: 2
Obama exaggerated how many times McCain voted against alternative energy. However, McCain flat out lied that he had never opposed it.

Obama's Senate subcommittee: McCain: 1
He implies that Obama should have had hearings when in fact it wasn't Obama's job to.

McCain on Reagan and Lebanon: McCain: 1
He didn't actually vote before sending troops.

Final Score:
McCain: 22 falsehood points (or roughly equivalent to 11 outright lies)
Obama: 7 falsehood points (or roughly equivalent to 3.5 outright lies)

We have the Republicans, as expected, outlying the Democrats by 3:1.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Economists Comparing Obama vs McCain

Scott Adams conducted a survey of 500 economists to try to figure out which presidential candidate would be better for the economy. The interpretation of the results is obviously subject to a lot of subjective calls, but take a look yourself.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Good Summary of Palin's Career

New York Times had a good summary of Palin's career. Thankfully, more and more people are starting to realize what a terrible candidate she is.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Sunday, September 14, 2008

The Daily Show Comes Through Too

The Daily Show ran a segment called John McCain, Reformed Maverick. This is awesome since they show him totally reversing his position from a few years ago on many key issues.

SNL Still Does A Good Job Sometimes

Since everyone talks about the presidential race all the time these days, someone has to keep a sense of humor.


Saturday, September 13, 2008

Sleazy Politics

In the last few weeks, the presidential race has become absolute garbage in terms of content. Ever since the selection of Sarah Palin as the Republican Vice Presidential candidate, the Republican campaign has devolved into outright lies and complete avoidance of issues.

Please, I urge everybody to pay attention to sites like: FactCheck.org

Both sides have made exaggerated or false claims, but McCain and Palin lately have been so full of lies that it's ridiculous:

Palin on Alaskan energy production - Supposedly she knows a lot about energy? Yet it clearly does not occur to her that there are other forms of energy but oil. I wonder what her stance on alternative energy must be.
McCain lying about Palin on earmarks - She keeps claiming she was against earmarks, against the "Bridge to Nowhere" but those are outright lies.
Palin on holy war - She believes our war in the Middle East is a religious cause? Just like the good old Bush "crusade" comment.

Palin's ignorance of what the"Bush Doctrine" is - She's all for war but she doesn't even know what Bush's reason for getting us into war was?
Palin on getting us into war against Russia - Sure, we may be fighting a war in Afghanistan and Iraq, but why not tackle a former superpower as well? I'm not afraid of nuclear war!

McCain lying about Obama's vote in favor of a bill to educate children in an attempt to prevent sexual molestation - McCain must be pro child sexual predator then? Maybe he's courting their votes.

What's the truth about Palin? She's a religious right wing extremist. That's how she's won over the extreme right wing votes.

Palin wanting creationism taught in schools - She believes her religion has a place in public schools. I don't see her pushing for evolution to be taught in religious schools. Or for Flying Spaghetti Monsterism to be taught in schools since that is another view on creationism.

Palin is anti-choice - It's really great that she doesn't believe in abortion and practices what she preaches, however she's in favor of taking away women's rights.

Palin abuses her governorship to attempt to pressure an official to fire a state trooper that was in a child custody battle with her sister. Then fires him when he doesn't.

Palin abuses her governorship to fire a librarian who refused to censor books according to Palin's whim
.

This list goes on and on. And the worst part is that the Republican Party is gaining ground. What is wrong with all you Republicans out there who support them?

Monday, September 1, 2008

I Want A Tree House!

Building useful things out of living trees is a pretty amazing idea that could be both sturdier and better for the environment. I mean, there are 5000 year old trees in California, but are there 5000 year old wooden structures anywhere in the world?

Nevermind

There's plenty of evidence that Sarah Palin was indeed pregnant with her Down Syndrome son. Oh well.

... And It Gets Better?

Apparently there's significant speculation that Sarah Palin lied about her son with Down Syndrome and it was actually her daughter's baby?

Talk about great moral values. Honesty and great family values all in one. Her unwed mid-teenage daughter mothering two children wouldn't be far worse than one, but this is just too messed if it's true.

Sarah Palin

John McCain's choice of Sarah Palin as his vice presidential candidate is rather disturbing to me. This lady is pretty much a crazy religious nut and will be one small step from the presidency, given McCain's seemingly frail health.

She's ignorant of the history of the Pledge of Allegiance. She's extremely anti-abortion, however at least she practices what she preaches given that her 17 year old daughter is having a baby soon and she herself chose to give birth to an unborn baby diagnosed with Down Syndrome. I mean, I give her credit for standing firm in her belief on the issue, but really, is it morally right for a parent to give birth to a child who will suffer his whole life because of an incurable disease that you knew about ahead of time? The religious nuts will say "life is sacred" and all sorts of things, but really, an early stage, unborn fetus is not a fully functional organism according to scientific definitions.

I dunno, I'm pretty sure the religious nuts were already going to vote for McCain, so I hope this helps push the more moderate (read: sane) voters toward Obama's side.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Time Flies

One of the worst parts about work is that I always end up feeling like my life is rapidly disappearing. One long day of work leads to the next and I lose track of time.

I've been working at my new job for a month already, and I still feel like it's "new." It leaves me with the sense that time is slipping through my fingers. Then I have to wonder what I'm doing with my rapidly passing life and whether it's what I should be.

Reality dictates that I need to work to earn money. Money enables a person to acquire necessities and luxuries. From what I've experienced, life simply doesn't feel complete with just money, though. There are all the aspects of life that money cannot provide and work obviously cannot provide those.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Work, work, work

My first week of my new job is going by pretty quickly. Commuting from Redondo Beach to Santa Monica everyday takes about an hour and a half out of each of my days. Add in the core work hours of 10am to 7pm everyday and I've basically got 11 hours of each day spent commuting or at work.

My actual work days have been pretty decent. Apparently my first task will be to do some work on the sound system, which has suffered from lack of serious work for quite some time. The two people that are actually my supervisors have been out this week, so my schedule has been a bit up in the air for the time being. I've been working with the sound guy, though, to try to get in some quick fixes for long standing problems with the sound system before this week is over. However, the features I've added have revealed some issues with the underlying architecture that I now need to fix. It's pretty tricky sometimes to fix subtle bugs in a complex system that someone else created.

Ah well. I'm not in too big of a rush to move closer to Santa Monica, but I can already tell that I would rather have back an extra hour each day to do other things. It's just so hard to find a good roommate. I miss my old roommate.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Google Indexes A Trillion Websites

It's kind of mind boggling how much information Google handles nowadays. Their search apparently covers one trillion websites now.... As a programmer, I find their service to be all that much more amazing. A decade ago, indexing a trillion websites would have been completely unreasonable. Even today, that's quite an incredible computational feat and it's become pretty much a daily part of our lives (for most internet users, I'd imagine).

In other news, I'm now at my buddy's place and my setup is fairly livable. My move in yesterday was not too bad aside from me suffering from pretty strong allergies. I spent some time cleaning the room a bit, and my allergies have abated. I also ended up driving up to Santa Monica to test out the commute today and the results weren't too encouraging. The drive took roughly 50 minutes each way in moderate traffic (not peak commuter hours). I have a feeling I'm going to hate the commute.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

I Hate Moving

Tomorrow, I'm gonna start the gradual move to my friend's apartment in Redondo Beach to shorten my commute to my new job in Santa Monica. Change will be good for me.

Hopefully, Luxoflux (part of Activision) will be a good place to work and traffic will not be as brutal as I've heard. My current plan is to at least partially move to my friend's place so I can stay there for a while and then if the commute is not too bad, I can stay there for the longer term. If the commute is too painful, then I will just move somewhere closer to Santa Monica and pay a lot more. I'll try to make the final decision quickly so I can just move furniture straight from my old place down here in Orange County straight to the right place with less wasted moving.

I'm gonna miss my roommate from down here (and her kitty of course).

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Lack Of Science Education In The U.S.

I had no idea science education in the United States was this bad. I was lucky enough to have a very good science education. The quality varies greatly, apparently:

Dr. Miller's data reveal some yawning gaps in basic knowledge. American adults in general do not understand what molecules are (other than that they are really small). Fewer than a third can identify DNA as a key to heredity. Only about 10 percent know what radiation is. One adult American in five thinks the Sun revolves around the Earth, an idea science had abandoned by the 17th century.

Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog

If you're a fan of Joss Whedon's work, you'll be happy to know that his latest work is available for viewing on the internet until midnight tomorrow. So hurry to go see "Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog" for some brief entertainment. It features Neil Patrick Harris, Felicia Day, and Nathan Fillion as the stars.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Google Maps Can Be Awesome... But Scary

Some folks put together this funny video of Google maps going wrong:

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Flyleaf

Once again, I've been introduced to good music from a band that I did not expect: Flyleaf. Their music is strongly Christian although they do not pigeonhole themselves into being a "Christian band" per se. Their music stands on its own merits so it doesn't particularly matter if they are a "Christian band" or not. In the past, my exposure to "Christian bands" led me to believe that at least some of the artists were more focused on conveying a Christian message than they were on making good music.

Here's a YouTube video of them performing one of their rather clearly Christian themed songs live. I chose this one because I like hearing how bands sound outside a studio before making a final opinion of them.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Intelligent Design As Science

Apparently Ben Stein has a movie coming out discussing the persecution of intelligent design by scientists. There really shouldn't be such a huge fuss over intelligent design.

1. Should intelligent design be taught in basic science classrooms? No. The theory of evolution is the theory that is generally accepted by the scientific community. There is no more room for intelligent design in classrooms than the theory I just made up about how people are on earth because we were painted into existence in a giant piece of canvas by a crazy artist in another dimension.

2. Should scientists be permitted to write papers that consider intelligent design? Sure. They better have good scientific evidence supporting their theories. There was a time when evolution was the minority opinion and was greeted with hostility as well. Scientific progress comes from people coming up with new ideas and testing them.

3. Is evolution "just a theory?" Yes. However, theories studied through the scientific process carry a lot more weight when they have a huge body of evidence backing it from the work of countless scientists working to find the truth. Evolution has a lot of scientific research supporting it. Intelligent design is also "just a theory." However, the very nature of this theory is nearly impossible to support scientifically, so it will likely not be a seriously considered scientific theory in the foreseeable future.

4. Why is everyone so upset? A lot of the bad taste in people's mouths about this issue come from the notion that some religious people may be using intelligent design as a way to sneak religion into science classrooms. Religion should not be a part of public school education since our country grants religious freedom. Religious people need to clear their heads and accept this.

5. Is there room for religion to peacefully coexist with science? Sure. It is pretty much impossible for science to ever answer all our questions because every question that is answered inevitably leads to more questions. Furthermore, religion gives people answers to questions beyond science, like morality.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Dodgers Beat The Angels Without Getting A Hit

In one of the most rare circumstances in baseball, the Dodgers beat the Angels 1-0 without getting a single hit. Apparently it's only the 5th time it's happened since 1900.

Yes, I don't usually talk about sports, but this coincidentally involved both of the local Los Angeles teams (I still think the Angels should be the Anaheim Angels) and was a super rare event.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Magic Pen - Completed!

I finished all 26 levels of the game and some of the last levels were pretty crazy. My friend pointed out that you can attach things to the red circle / square and that totally made some of the last levels doable. I don't want to ruin the game for anybody trying it so I won't say any more than that. =)

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Magic Pen Flash Game

I stumbled across this Flash game called Magic Pen in which your goal is to move a red shape to a goal area by drawing little shapes and letting physics take place.

The game rule are extremely simple: you can draw shapes and attach them to each other with rigid (mostly) joints or hinges that allow the piece to swivel about each other. You can either draw polygons or you can draw rolling circle objects.

The drawing detection of the polygons is not too bad, but a little flaky sometimes. It's good enough that the game is quite fun because you eventually have to start building up lever systems with counterweights and stuff to move the red shape to the goal area. Occasionally, I found myself drawing shapes and dropping them on objects in motion to adjust the movement of the object.

The game is definitely worth a few minutes (or hours) of enjoyment. I love these more unusual games.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Google Bombing John McCain

Google bombing is quite a powerful technique to subtly influence people and it's simple to do. There's currently an effort to google bomb John McCain with negative articles about him. All you have to do is spread around links such as these:

John McCain
John McCain
John McCain
John McCain
John McCain
John McCain
John McCain
John McCain
John McCain

And you've contributed to the effort. When people search Google for John McCain, those articles will have a higher ranking due to the way google's link analysis works. =)

Bad Guys Do Get The Girls

Apparently, scientists have found evidence clearly showing what we've suspected all along: the bad boys get the girls. Sucks for guys like me. There are simply not enough girls out there who look for good guys. Maybe I should just pretend to be an asshole....

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Loud Music

Why do some people listen to music at such a deafening volume setting?

This morning, I was woken up by people in my apartment complex blasting ridiculously loud music. This is not the first time it's happened. Today was especially bad, however, because it started at 8 am and has continued for the last two hours with no end in sight.

The music itself is louder in my room than my music is when I listen to music on my own speakers. By my estimates, the people listening to the music are in an apartment like 100 feet away, so they must be deaf by now. One of the really sleep preventing aspects, though, was that some lady who was listening to it was singing very loudly (and not very well) with it.

Eventually, I had to give up on sleep and just get out of bed with my head full of grumpy thoughts about throwing rocks through their windows and such.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Firefox 3 Is Out!!

<-- (typical Firefox 3 user... you can tell by her chest... like the front of her shirt, I mean...)

I've been using the betas and release candidates of Firefox 3 for a while and I haven't gone back to 2.x since. Even though I don't use a lot of the new features, the browsing experience simply feels faster and the browser supposedly uses less memory, especially when having many tabs open. Typically I have at least 3-4 tabs open when I'm not really surfing the web. I keep Gmail and a couple of news type blogs open all the time. When I am looking things up and stuff, I can easily pass 10 tabs open, so more memory efficiency is a very welcome thing.

Go get Firefox here! They are trying to set a record for the most software downloads in one day, so grab it today to take part in the record attempt.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

"I'm Voting Republican"

I stumbled across a pretty funny video about why people should vote Republican. It's so true in so many ways.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

McCain's Terrible Speech

John McCain gave a terrible speech in response to Obama. Like really terrible. Terrible to the point that news reporters were laughing at it and it really would have been better if he hadn't given it. He sounds so weak and pitiful. I don't know how anybody can vote for this guy.

Barack Obama Wins the Democratic Nomination

I was pretty sure it was coming, but Obama has finally won the Democratic nomination. I'm looking forward to real general election campaigning now against McCain. Obama is seriously, the most interesting presidential candidate we've had within my lifetime. Hopefully he can bring about the change that he often talks about. That glimmer of hope he brings is exactly why he's so popular with us younger voters.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The Miracle Fruit?

Apparently there's an interesting fruit that changes the way your taste buds perceive sour tastes into sweet. It would be interesting to try this some time. =) I should see if any of my friends want to do a tasting party with these.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

My City!

Apparently there's this site where you can create your own little town that gains population when people go visit it. It's kind of cute. Pointless, though. I still couldn't help but make a little city of my own called "Greener Grass." No, that's not a drug reference. I'm sure you can figure out what it's a reference to. =)

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Poor Thing

My roommate's kitty has this habit of waking me up in the mornings when she's out of town. It's annoying, but I can't really be too upset about it since she's probably just lonely. She cost me a few hours of sleeping in this morning, though. Then of course now she went off somewhere to take a cat nap herself! The nerve!

Friday, May 16, 2008

Wasting Energy (But Looking Pretty Awesome)

Apparently there's this hole in the ground in Uzbekistan that has been burning for over 35 years. some dudes were looking for natural gas and came upon a big cave of natural gas. For whatever reason, instead of doing something useful like collecting the gas and using it for fuel, these dudes thought it would be a better idea to burn off the gas.

I mean, I gotta say, it looks pretty amazing, but it's such a waste in light of how much natural gas that could have been used for fuel has been wasted. At the very least, someone should build a generator on top of the hole.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

The First Zero Carbon Emission City?

Apparently the United Arab Emirates is planning on building Masdar City as a zero carbon emission city of 50,000 people. Cars won't be allowed in the city. Instead, they will have some underground public transportation that is solar powered. They plan on recycling / reusing water with very high efficiency (80%). All in all, this city sounds like an incredible experiment in making mankind's existence on earth more sustainable.

Being in southern California where we drain water from hundreds of miles away to sustain our needs, being able to have 80% efficient water reclamation would be an incredible breakthrough, not to mention all the other feats they are planning. The really astounding thing is they are planning on beginning construction as early as next year.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Super Mario Levels -> Music

Using Super Mario levels to play music was a new concept to me when I saw this clip. They not only make a Rube Goldberg style level that plays itself, but this one plays a medley of songs using the in game sound effects in conjunction with the audio track. I can't even being to guess how long it took to set this up.

Video games are truly a new medium for artistic expression. It's hard not to believe it when things like this are possible.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Leaf Cuisine

Lunch with my friends went about as smoothly as possible. We ate at Leaf Cuisine, a raw vegan foods place. The food there is very interesting, since they emulate normal foods using only raw vegan ingredients.

One friend didn't like it. He ordered a "pizza" which was nothing like a pizza. Instead of a baked, dough crust, it had a cracker-like crust made of some pressed grain. Instead of cooked tomato sauce, it had some sauce made with dried tomatoes. Instead of cheese, it had some fake cheese sauce with approximately the consistency of mustard. Unfortunately, he was expecting something far more pizza-like.

My other friend was okay with her dish. She's vegetarian, so her expectations were probably more realistic. She ordered nachos which were fairly close to nachos. They were again made with some sort of cracker-like chips made presumably of corn meal but with herbs. Then they had good, normal guacamole and pico de gallo on them. Instead of sour cream, they had some fairly runny creamy sauce. Instead of cheese, they had that fake cheese sauce again. Then they had some sort of bean sauce designed to emulate refried beans.

The dish I ordered was pretty good, actually. I (wisely) ordered a dish that usually is served with mostly raw ingredients: a mushroom sandwich. The only thing a little unusual was that instead of bread, it had "mango bread," which seems like it's something like dried slices of mango. The innards of the sandwich were quite decent, so I enjoyed it.

I would be willing to go to that restaurant again. I'm pretty sure my vegetarian friend would too. My other friend, I'm pretty sure would not.

In any case, the lunch was not particularly dramatic, so things turned out to be okay.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Why Am I Nervous?

Tomorrow, I'm going to have lunch with a couple of old friends. For some weird reason, though, I feel really nervous about it. It's almost as if I'm afraid of what might happen. I've been on kind of uncertain ground in recent years with one of them. She and I used to be much closer, but we've kind of gone our separate ways in recent years.

I guess I always feel like she's going to judge me or freak out about something I say. I guess it's just worse in light of my recent dispute with one of our mutual friends. It always seems like the people who freak out the most about others being judgmental are the most judgmental themselves. It's quite irritating, to be honest.

My tolerance for that sort of thing has been destroyed in recent months. Maybe I'm nervous that I'll get upset? Maybe I'm nervous that our friendship might no longer be there? Maybe I'm just nervous because I don't know what to expect?

Thursday, May 1, 2008

WOW: Arena Success At Last

My warlock's team has finally found what feels like a comfortable class composition in recent weeks and has finally taken over (again) as the strongest team on my server. Oddly enough, the development that has allowed us to jump past 2000 rating has been swapping out our priest for another mage. I don't blame our priest's skills or something, I just think that our old class composition was obsolete. Really, it was obsolete already at the end of season 1. The recent surge in popularity of "Eurocomp" (a.k.a. rogue, mage, disc priest, warlock, resto druid) and "Trifecta" (a.k.a. warrior, enh shaman, rogue, priest, paladin) was really hurting our old composition because both of those compositions exert devastating pressure on warlocks.

Many teams have given up on warlocks, but obviously, I couldn't. Given the selection of players on our team's roster, we theorycrafted that adding another mage instead of a priest would strengthen us against both of those compositions because we'd be adding another anti melee crowd control class as well as significant firepower. The old model of a single priest mana burning the opposing team's casters was simply not powerful enough after the mana burn nerf relative to the offensive firepower the other teams could bring to bear on our team.

Thus, our warrior, warlock, mage, mage, paladin lineup was born and immediately our rating went up. In hindsight, it's been kind of ironic that we spent so long trying to recruit a skilled priest and then in the end, we had to bench him. The personal aspect of maintaining an active arena team roster is the hardest part for me. People become friends as they play together, so it's very hard for me to alter my team's class composition. How do you ask a friend to sit out because your team does better without him without it sounding like you're blaming him for your losses? Luckily our priest offered to bench himself for the good of the team. I mean it was apparent that our team simply didn't perform as well when we ran with him (given that his personal rating had fallen to more than 200 below the team's rating).

While I don't feel like my team is extraordinarily skilled, I am proud of the way we have been playing. We are the most consistently active and now the most successful team on my server and that is definitely something I feel I can be proud of, since I'm the leader.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Voting Machines That Can't Count

Apparently, the Sequoia voting machines used in the New Jersey primary can't count quite right. I don't understand how we entrust our elections to companies that don't have to disclose their software source code to be audited. Who knows what kind of mistakes the machine is making when it makes such a basic error? Plus, nobody will ever know but them?

Sequoia's explanation of the problem reveals a kind of idiocy to their software design. Why, when creating software that's sole job is to count, would you make the machine "best fit" any choice, whether by the poll worker or the voter. I mean what if a voted pressed a non-sensical button and the machine just arbitrarily picked a candidate on the person's behalf that it judged to be the "best fit?"

Additionally, apparently, they are blaming further discrepancies on people misreading 9s and 8s for each other. When your machine's sole job is to count votes and print out a verifiable record of those votes, shouldn't you make sure the printed out record is legible? You should choose higher quality output printing mechanisms than the extremely low resolution dot matrix printer that they seem to have chosen. On top of that, you should choose a font with unambiguous characters so that partially printed characters are still distinguishable in almost every case. When an 8 and a 9 are only visually distinct by one dot that the printer has a 10% chance of not drawing, then we have a problem.

While I'm not sure hand counting ballots is any better, having such blatant mistakes certainly doesn't make these election results any more trustworthy.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Korean Baby Singing "Hey Jude"

My friend sent me this video of a Korean baby singing "Hey Jude." It's just kind of cute, really. It's also quite funny that a baby can be so into The Beatles without even knowing English.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

State Secrets

While there are certain circumstances under which I can accept that the government can refuse to submit certain evidence to court because it constitutes some sort of "state secret," it's fairly clear that this doctrine has been abused under the Bush administration.

This is a great write up about what's been happening in Oregon to the American branch of an Islamic charity called Al Haramain. The government accidentally disclosed proof that it was wire tapping the organization and then rendered this proof inadmissible by citing "state secrets." It's pretty much known that the government was indeed wire tapping the organization, however, this cannot be a factor in the court case.

Isn't this a great country where the government can do whatever they want and not be held accountable in court anymore?

Bush's Crusade

The war in Iraq has always seemed to be a bit of a "crusade" as Bush inappropriately called it early on. Apparently even among our soldiers, there is some religious discrimination against non Christians. Whatever happened to the separation of church and state? Under Bush's reign, the line has gotten more and more blurred.

Religious freedom should be one of our nation's basic tenets. The virulent and intolerant nature of most religions must be held in check by our government or we risk becoming a theocracy.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Dirty Harry Video Game Was Highly Anticipated?

This list of the most anticipated games that you will never get to play caught my eye because number 7 on the list was "Dirty Harry." I worked on that game! I had to check out what they had to say on it.

"So is there any chance it'll come out?
Sadly, the game was never as far along as that trailer makes it look (Warner Bros. just had an animation team cook up the trailer for marketing purposes, none of that was gameplay) and the project never really got off the ground."

Sadly, that's pretty close to the truth. I mean we did have more gameplay than they said but the terrible game engine that they have at The Collective Studios was really a huge obstacle to making the game fun.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Scientology Sounds So Far-Fetched....

I honestly have a hard time understanding why anybody would follow Scientology. People have leaked internal documents that make it sound so absurd:

http://www.wikileaks.org/wiki/Church_of_Scientology%27s_%27Operating_Thetan%27_documents_leaked_online

Seriously, just do some basic research on L. Ron Hubbard. Here we have a science fiction writer who "made comments about starting a religion to make money rather than writing fiction." In the leaked documents, we get this story about some extraterrestrial dude named Xenu who dumped a bunch of folks inside volcanoes on earth 75 million years ago or something. That's not even good science fiction. I can see how he came to the conclusion that he should make a religion to make money instead of continuing to write fiction.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Torturing Animals As Art?

This dude named Guillermo Habacuc Vargas apparently starved a dog he got off the street to death in front of people at a gallery as "art."

Snopes has the story as undetermined... However, this blog claims the artist himself admitted on his myspace page that the dog died. On top of that, apparently one of the artist's student has tried to surpass his teacher by biting a live chicken and cat and drinking their blood.

Wow, how the hell is this art? It's kind of lame to define art as things that provoke a response from the audience. At some point a line must be drawn, or isn't human torture some sort of art too?

Monday, April 14, 2008

Net Neutrality

One of the things we take for granted these days is "Net Neutrality." This is the principle that internet users are provided equal access to anything on the internet. However, some ISPs are working toward the ability to regulate content. Imagine the potential future where you can't access your favorite sites because those sites refused to pay your ISP. Imagine if websites critical of a certain politician were somehow blacklisted by ISPs by a simple bidding process.

There's a growing movement to try to protect Net Neutrality. Increasing awareness is always a good step to preventing this sort of potential problem.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Wasting Food

It annoys me to no end to see restaurants (and customers) waste food. The demand for food worldwide has been increasing faster than our ability to produce food has increased. Why are people so wasteful?

On several occasions, I've been in Chipotle, when the person ahead of me changed their mind about their order. The Chipotle employee was left with a mostly made burrito (or whatever) that he couldn't really do anything with so they just throw it in the trash. This rubs me the wrong way because I'm someone who has voluntarily given up eating meat for the sake of the world whereas the person right next to me not only is consuming meat, but is throwing meat straight into the garbage.

I understand that the restaurant would rather please the customer so the customer comes back again at the cost of wasting some food. However, it seems kind of silly that a customer could theoretically change his mind multiple times and waste many times the actual ingredient cost of what he purchases with no penalty. I'm not exactly sure what could be done except that the customers need to change their attitude toward food.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Lama, Llama, Lllama

I was chatting with a friend today and I accidentally misspelled "llama" as "lllama" and this classic Ogden Nash poem came to mind.

'The Lama'

The one-l lama,
He's a priest.
The two-l llama,
He's a beast.
And I will bet
A silk pajama
There isn't any
Three-l lllama.*

-- Ogden Nash

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Earth Hour

Dangit, I missed most of Earth Hour cuz I was having dinner with some friends. =( It's basically a movement that for one hour, everybody turns off their lights to reduce power consumption and raise awareness of the burden we're putting on the environment.

I'm sad I missed it. Gonna turn off my lights for the last bit of it, though. =(

Monday, March 24, 2008

Google Docs Exporting Is Terrible

I tried exporting my Google Docs resume as a PDF because I figured that was pretty platform neutral. The resulting document looked nothing like the original. So I tried exporting it as a Microsoft Word Document. The resulting file crashes Microsoft WordPad. I then tried exporting it as a Rich Text Document and the resulting document again looked nothing like the original.

I'm pretty sure a lot of the export formatting problems have to do with the use of tables.

Anyways, I guess I can just export it as HTML since that works flawlessly. It damn well better since that's what it uses to display in the browser. Beware if you're planning on using Google Docs to work with any of the other formats and you plan on using tables.

Google Docs Is Not Quite Solid

Today, I tried importing my resume from Microsoft Word into Google Docs to update it (and to avoid having to install Microsoft Word). I was impressed by how well it worked. All the tables and formatting looked about right except for the position of one small table. My disappointment only began when I tried editing it.

I first tried to add a new entry in the work experience section for my most recent job at The Collective Studios. The editor continually had issues attempting to figure out what text belonged in which bulleted list and the spacing was totally unmanageable (perhaps for the same reason). I verified over and over that the spacing was all set to single space and the text was all the same size, but I had to end up re-entering text a few times to get the spacing to be consistent.

Then I tried to fix the little table. It was utterly impossible to move it. I ended up just remaking a new version of the same table so I had better control over it.

All in all, the Google Docs editor works amazingly well, but it still can't quite compete with good old fashioned word processors like Microsoft Word.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Another Odd Dream

Last night, I remember one segment of my dreams where I had to try to memorize the answers to some sort of like fill in the blank type questions and answer them in front of a group of people. However, the fill in the blank type questions were in a language I didn't understand. It felt like Japanese (written with English characters though).

I tried and tried but couldn't remember them because they were basically gibberish to me. Then when it came time for me to answer them in front of the people, I couldn't do it. I woke up at that point and was like sweating.

I wonder if that dream was some sort of manifestation of my doubts about my ability to succeed.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Barack Obama's Amazing Speech

Today, Barack Obama delivered one of the most amazing speeches of recent years. I highly recommend listening to it or watching it. He does an awesome job of boiling down why there are still racial tensions in our country and asks us to try to find common ground to move forward. If everyone in the country would listen to this speech and think about what it meant, there would be a lot more progress in general. The people of our country really do need to unite to move forward.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

WOW: Battlegroup 9 Server PVP Strength Levels

Battlegroup 9 has some strong teams on many servers, but one way to gauge the overall strength of each server is to look at the overall ranking of the 20th strongest 5v5 team on each server. The numbers you see are pretty good at telling the story of the overall skill of that server.

Tichondrius (PVP): 33
Blackrock (PVP): 108
Kil'jaeden (PVP): 211
Ner'zhul (PVP): 326
Frostwolf (PVP): 358
Barthilas (PVP): 372
Frostmourne (PVP): 478
Thaurissan (PVE): 647
Kilrogg (PVE): 795
Proudmoore (PVE): 1060
Khaz'goroth (PVE): 1510
Vek'Nilash (PVE): 1529
Silver Hand (RP): 1551
Dath'Remar (PVE): 1725
Sen'jin (PVE): 1725
Aman'thul (PVE): 1801
Nagrand (PVE): 2153
Caelastrasz (PVE): 3065

Note that every single PVP server is above every single non PVP server. No surprise there. Tichondrius is also clearly a tier above all the other PVP servers.

At least as far as PVE servers go, my server (Kilrogg) is the second strongest by this metric.

Also, to be fair, Caelastrasz and Nagrand are very new servers so I'm sure their pool of players with the gear to compete is very small.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Allergy Warnings On Food: Useful And Silly

I fully understand why there is a need to have allergy warning information on food. For example, plain chocolate M&Ms can potentially have small amounts of peanut in them because they are from the same plant as peanut M&Ms. For people with the severe allergy to peanuts, this can be a life saver.

However, sometimes the warnings turn out to be just plain silly. For example, I purchased a package of "Chipotle Oven Roasted Peanuts" and the label, as required by law, warns: "Allergy Information: This product is processed on equipment that also processes other tree nuts or peanuts. May contain tree nuts or peanuts." I certainly hope the peanuts are processed on equipment that processes peanuts. And I certainly hope it contains peanuts.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Dreams

I don't tend to remember my dreams very often nowadays. Usually I only remember them if they made a strong enough impression on me that I thought about it a little bit after I woke up.

Last night, I had a weird one not long before I woke up where I had to have surgery for some reason in which the result was that they had to clean the filter in my esophagus. Even in my dream, I thought it was odd that there was a filter in my esophagus at all but the surgeon was quick to explain that it was perfectly normal and being in a dream, I accepted it. Anyways, then the rest of that dream was me recovering from this surgery with a kind of weird recurring pain in my chest area and explaining to people I had had surgery done.

I'm not exactly sure why this dream made a strong enough impression on me that I remembered it. I'm suspicious that it had to do with how miserable I've felt since yesterday when my Spring allergies started up. Ah well.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Cats Talking

Apparently over 8 million people have seen this clip before I did, but here's a video clip of two cats being utterly cute and acting like they're conversing. I think I'm going to have to get a cat or two when my roommate moves out and takes Embo with her.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Tetris Doesn't Disappoint Either

This version of Tetris has some "Grand Master" mode that is pretty brutal. This guy, however, demolishes it. He even survives through the invisible phase. That's just so insane. I'd love to see what this guy could do in versus mode Tetris games.

Some People Are Ridiculous At DDR

Dance Dance Revolution was an incredibly clever game at the time it first caught on and even to this day, I'm extremely impressed with how good some people got at it.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Garfield Minus Garfield

This person decided to try removing Garfield from the Garfield comic strip to see what would happen. The results are somewhat disturbing in some ways. To quote the site: "Who would have guessed that when you remove Garfield from the Garfield comic strips, the result is an even better comic about schizophrenia, bipolor disorder, and the empty desperation of modern life? Friends, meet Jon Arbuckle. Let’s laugh and learn with him on a journey deep into the tortured mind of an isolated young everyman as he fights a losing battle against lonliness in a quiet American suburb."

This reminds me of The Nietzsche Family Circus in terms of how much it changes the feel of the comic strip with a simple alteration. The Nietzsche Family Circus has generated some pretty profound ones when I've experimented with it.

Friday, February 29, 2008

"Lock Them Up And Throw Away The Key"

Did you know that more than one percent of U.S. adults are in prison? We're the highest in the world. What's wrong with us?

I think it's conceivable that a lot of it us our culture. American culture places a lot of emphasis on defying authority and doing what you believe in. It's popular to be distrustful of the government and to view police officers as bad guys. I'm not saying that this is "wrong" but some people simply take this idea too far and don't recognize the harm they do to society when they defy authority for their own purposes.

Police officers in general are not bad guys. There are those who overstep their bounds or don't obey the letter of the law either, but for the most part they are there to keep things peaceful. Thinking all police officers are bad is like thinking all people are bad because some people are criminals.

Laws are not there to deny people freedom. They are there to protect one person's freedom from encroaching on another person's freedom. If it were legal to steal, then nobody would be able to keep their own possessions. If it were legal to kill, then nobody would be able to stay alive. It's pretty simple, really.

Grow up, people.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

WOW: The Easy Way Out

After trying many times to get 1850 to get a spellblade for my warlock with my paladin friend, she finally convinced me to give up on the notion and just do it the easy way. It was making us fight a lot and just get frustrated with the situation more and more. I fully admit I should have given up on the notion earlier, but I am a person who likes to believe that the game is balanced enough that we should be able to overcome the class composition disadvantages.

In any case, in two short sessions, I managed to achieve 1850 for a spellblade with a restoration druid only losing 3 games total, one of which was me disconnecting when we were close to victory. It's totally ridiculous that we could have so little experience running a comp and consistently win so much more easily. To top it off, our druid friend's gear is not nearly as good as my paladin friend's gear. We didn't even do anything outstandingly well. We just simply overpowered every team we faced with the exception of the two who legitimately beat us. Gogo Blizzard game balance.

Oh well, it's done now. Both my priest and warlock have their final gear for the season pretty much done because I'm not on any teams making a serious push for 2000 right now. Ah well. Now there's even less reason for me to think about World Of Warcraft. =)

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

WOW: Battlegroups Are A Bad Concept

There is always a lot of discussion about the different battlegroups (i.e. groups of servers that can PVP with each other) and various claims about the different strengths of the various battlegroups. The hype about Battlegroup 9, a.k.a Bloodlust, has made it significantly more difficult to acquire our rating requirements. All of the glory seekers who transfer to Bloodlust really have made it significantly harder to acquire high ratings this season than the last. My 5v5 teams are around 250 rating lower than they were in the previous season with the same players playing.

I know people like to mention that the top players in other battlegroups have come here and have made it to the top. However, I think it's clear that the very best players that were originally in each battlegroup were pretty competitive with each other. The fact that so many have since congregated in Bloodlust have made it so that the top ratings are saturated with exceptionally good players. In turn, these top players push down the decent players' ratings (like mine).

A couple of my friends transferred to another battlegroup very recently and have been trying to get me to transfer there as well with stories about how much easier it is there. It is honestly tempting to transfer there.

I'm guessing it's technically infeasible, but Blizzard could make all battlegroups completely even if they merged all battlegroups together within the U.S. Then those of us suffering from the hype over my battlegroup will be able to achieve the same gear that people of our skill level in other battlegroups can. It would even help the problem a little if servers rotated among the various battlegroups a little bit so that the rating point pools intermingled. Perhaps have the servers shuffle battlegroups once a week?

Battlegroups are hurting the whole arena system badly unless something is done to make them even with one another.

Monday, February 25, 2008

The Joy Of Programming

Yesterday, I started fiddling around with making a Java Applet and it was a good reminder that programming is especially fun when it's done for fun. This is something I had forgotten for a long time because I have been paid to program all day long. When I got home, I genuinely didn't feel motivated to program for my own sake anymore. Implementing what other people want is not nearly as satisfying as implementing what I want.

I have resolved to implement at least one or two personal programming projects that I've wanted to tackle while I have time. I haven't written in Java in a long time, and I really enjoy how much cleaner the language feels than C++. Maybe I shouldn't go back to C++ development at all? Who knows.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

My Sister's Birthday

Today is my sister's birthday. I always feel like her birthday should be a nice day, but today has been kind of gloomy. Not like there's any rhyme or reason to how weather works.

In any case, birthdays are supposed to be happy occasions, and I am happy that I got 20 years with her. It will never be possible to replace her in my life, but wounds do heal, even if they leave scars. I need to try harder to heal myself. It's been a long time already, and I can't allow myself to remain crippled. I am sure that she would want me to live on and have a good life.

If she hadn't been killed, right now she'd be practicing medicine and making people's lives better. We even had a clever plan where I would help her pay off her medical school debts since my chosen profession pays much better in the short term. Then, eventually she'd have plenty of money and she'd invest money in projects I wanted to work on. Sadly, I'm pretty sure she'd still be in the paying off debt phase of her career at this point.

At some point, I want to develop some piece of software in her honor, but I don't know what it will be yet. I will, though.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Chipotle Is Not Owned By McDonald's!

Woo! I just found out a great bit of news. People had told me that the Chipotle chain of restaurants was owned by McDonald's and I had never really verified. Apparently, at the end of 2006, McDonald's let Chipotle split off. So my continued patronage of Chipotle is not putting more money in the hands of McDonald's! Yay. No more guilt about it.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

My Roommate's Kitty's New Napping Spot

Apparently, since I don't sit way back in my chair, my roommate's kitty has decided that the gap between my butt and the back of the chair is a comfy, warm place to nap. It's kind of cute. I just have to be aware so I don't squash her somehow. In return, she does keep my butt warmer too. ;)

cute kitty picture!

Friday, February 15, 2008

WOW: Finally 1850 For My Priest

After a long and frustrating few weeks of trying to achieve 1850 on either my warlock on my priest, I managed to do it! I didn't have to compromise my goal of doing it with my paladin friend either! My paladin friend was starting to hate the game because of how much trouble paladins have in the small arena brackets but we busted out paladin/priest/warrior and managed to achieve 1850 and earn her paladin and my priest our season 3 weapons!

Krakatoan

Paladin/priest/warrior is remarkably strong vs a lot of popular compositions, which led to our success. Like we beat the popular rogue/mage/priest lineup very consistently and fair decently well vs druid teams.

Now I need to see if I can manage 1850 on my warlock with my paladin friend because we're inseparable. ;)

Monday, February 11, 2008

A Silly Math Joke

Whoever first noticed this was pretty observant....

Q: Why do mathematicians often confuse Christmas and Halloween?
A: Because Oct 31 = Dec 25.

In case you don't get it, "Oct" refers to octal numbers and "Dec" refers to decimal numbers. Octal numbers are base 8, which means that as you count up, you carry to the next digit on 8, whereas decimal numbers are the ones that we're all used to where you carry to the next digit on 10. The first 10 positive octal numbers run: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 10, 11, 12. This is just a neat coincidence that 31 in octal works out to be 25 in decimal.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Go Vote!

If you're a fellow Californian (or in one of the states having primaries today), go vote!

Voter apathy is killing America. If you don't vote when you have the opportunity to directly influence the government, then you have no right to complain about anything the government does. When the government does something bad, you are also at fault for not preventing it.

So get off your lazy butt and go vote!

Monday, February 4, 2008

Interesting Idea - Playing WOW As A Pacifist....

World of Warcraft doesn't have to be about killing monsters....

I actually thought about doing something like this at some point but it just sounds like way too much work. I'm impressed the guy has gone so far with it, honestly. =)

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Orange Guard (Part 2)

It's been raining a lot lately, so pests have been moving indoors to escape the bad weather outside. Today ants decided to pay our apartment a visit, so I took the chance to try Orange Guard.

It seemed to work just fine at killing the ants and the area I had sprayed did indeed smell nice and orangey. Ants did indeed seem to avoid the sprayed area afterwards because they completely stopped coming out. We shall see how long the deterrent effect works. So far, it's much more pleasant to use than the foul smelling other insecticides. It's also a lot nicer knowing that my roommate's cat won't get poisoned by it.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

935 False Statements....

This recent study counted 935 false statements by the Bush administration to systematically brainwash people into the right mindset to support invading Iraq. Yet, to this day, there are people who still support Bush and the war.

Game Review Sites

Sam Kennedy made an excellent post at 1up.com on the GameSpot incident where they fired an editor after he gave a bad review to a game that was paying a lot of money to GameSpot. He provides a lot of good background information and discusses the ramifications of the whole incident.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Arguments: "You Must Not Understand What I'm Saying"

I hate how often people argue about things with me and then they say that I must not understand what they're saying. That's a totally illogical conclusion to assume that just because someone disagrees with you, they must not understand you. That's simply based on the egotistical assumption that there is only one possible conclusion given the facts and that conclusion is yours. This has become a pet peeve of mine because so many people use it.

Think about the situation logically and you will see: There are several possible conclusions that can be drawn besides the possibility of the other person simply not understanding you.

1. The other person sees your reasoning but you don't see his.
2. Both people see both sides but simply come to a different conclusion due to personal values or whatever.
3. Neither person sees the other side's reasoning.

On top of this, even if you truly believe that the other person is simply not seeing your reasoning, it is terrible form to accuse them of it. It is insulting, since it implies they are dumber than you are. It points the finger of blame at them for having an argument at all. It is a step along the path toward the argument becoming unresolvable since you've now turned it personal instead of it remaining a debate of ideas.

So basically, never, ever accuse the other person of failing to see your reasoning. It accomplishes nothing. Instead, focus on what you can control, which is presenting your own reasoning more clearly and attempting to understand what is preventing the other person from understanding you and making sure you are understanding the other person.

Eventually, the only unresolvable argument is the second situation, in which case, you and the other person simply must coexist with differing opinions.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Improving Your World Of Warcraft Ping

I'm fairly cautious about putting in system tweaks to improve game performance, but I actually do support this one particular change to improve your latency in World of Warcraft. I did a bunch of research into it and in my experience, the benefits far outweigh the costs.

Background information:

Our tale of this tweak begins way back in the days of telnet and dial-up modems. Applications like telnet tend to send a lot of really small bits of data, like when you press a key, it sends a packet of data containing what key it was that you pressed and then waits for an acknowledgment to make sure it went through. In a packet of data like this (either a single keystroke or an acknowledgment), the packet header and stuff is bigger than the meaningful data, so it's pretty wasteful to send out these packets like this. Along came a dude named Nagle, who came up with a clever optimization. He realized that you could combine multiple packets to reduce the wasted overhead by delaying just a little bit before sending a packet. In fact, you could even wait to acknowledge more than one packet at a time. This small delay (maybe 0.2 sec or so) was not particularly noticeable on a horrible dial-up connection with pretty bad latency to begin with and the bandwidth savings were much more important. Nagle's optimization became part of the standard TCP/IP implementation.

Fast forward to today. Windows at it's heart still tries to support the lowest end users so it still enables "Nagling" in TCP/IP connections by default. However, if you're someone who plays games online with a broadband connection, times have changed a lot. We have much higher expectations about reponsiveness in games and games rarely send enough data to saturate a broadband connection. World of Warcraft is no exception. It's now far more important to have a more responsive connection to World of Warcraft than it is to save a few bytes per data packet that we send out.

Applications in Windows are permitted to disable Nagling to improve responsiveness under TCP/IP. In the most recent World of Warcraft patch, Blizzard attempted to do so but failed. Therefore word has been spreading about how to disable Nagling yourself to improve your latency. The best article I've seen is this one:

http://smallvoid.com/article/winnt-nagle-algorithm.html

Which explains how to disable Nagling under Windows XP as well as Windows 2000. I had seen another article explaining how to do it under Windows XP but it didn't fully disable Nagling on my Windows 2000 machine. After adding these registry changes, my latency at peak hours dropped from about 250 ms to 60 ms. This is like a night and day difference when it comes to precision necessary to do well in World of Warcraft Arena. Last night, I felt like I was playing a totally different game. I never really realized how used to having high latency I was.

Note that I would have probably adopted this change earlier if i had thought about or paid close attention to my ping before these last few days. I always trusted developers to make better choices about optimizing for game responsiveness these days. I know from past experiences that other games like first person shooters often don't bother with TCP/IP and use UDP for more responsiveness because the reliability of TCP/IP is not as important in an FPS. Out of date information is as good as no information in an FPS.

In any case I do fully recommend adopting this change until Blizzard fixes their attempt to disable Nagling. If you've never played the game with under 100 ms latency, you'll feel an incredible difference. Also, I even tried downloading some large files to test how badly it hurt my overall data throughput and I couldn't even tell a difference.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

The Anniversary Of My Sister's Death

As of today, it's been 8 years since my sister died. It's strange how time has passed since then. I feel like it's been slipping by and I've never really recovered my balance fully. I feel like my life has not gone the direction it would have if things had been different.

I know now just how unfair life can be. I know now just how meaningless everything is. I'm a much more bitter person than I probably would have been.

At the same time, I learned about how much I had taken my sister for granted and realized just how much I should appreciate her role in my life. I would not trade the time I had with her simply to avoid the pain of the loss. I will treasure my memories of her.

Sarah McLachlan's "I Will Remember You" is something much like what I'd imagine my sister would be telling me:

I will remember you.
Will you remember me?
Don't let your life pass you by,
Weep not for the memories.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Hmmm, He Has A Follow Up Video

I'm glad a lot of people pointed out that weakness in his argument. He made a second video where he acknowledges this weakness and then basically falls back into the standard arguments for taking action against global warming. Oh well, it was a good try!

Good Try To Argue For Global Warming Prevention...

... but fundamentally weak.

I've received the link to this guy's video a few times where he presents a simple way to justify taking action against global warming as the more conservative option to avoid global catastrophe. I believe that we as a race need to take action to prevent global warming, but I believe his argument is exceedingly weak. The way his argument works is what I would consider "gullibility thinking."

Long ago, Pascal made roughly the same argument to justify the belief in God. He argued using a similar table of possibilities and actions.





BelieveDon't Believe
God ExistsAll good, go to Heaven.Burn in Hell for eternity.
God Doesn't ExistWasted timeGet to laugh at believers


So you can see, since we can only choose which column we end up in, the more conservative bet is to avoid eternal damnation because the penalty for that is far worse than wasted time.

In fact, you can use this same argument to justify action in practically anything with a scary consequence of inaction. Check this one out....





Look Over Your ShoulderDon't Look
Axe murderer behind youIf you see him you can defend yourself!Get hacked to pieces.
I'm just kiddingWasted timeGet to laugh at my feeble attempt to make a point.


So you can see in this table, the safe action for you to take is to look over your shoulder right now because the penalty for being wrong is that you get hacked to pieces.

I mean, I give this guy a lot of credit for putting together an easy to understand and fairly convincing video for a good cause, but it's definitely not some unassailable argument.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Picture Of Kitty On My Lap

My roommate's kitty was on my lap again today so I grabbed my camera and took a picture. She took the flash remarkably well without freaking out and clawing my legs. It was a risk I was willing to take, though. There's just something so nice about having a kitty on one's lap.

When we first adopted her, she was so scared that she spent the first couple of weeks under my roommate's bed. Then she would occasionally venture out and spend the majority of her time down there. I remember the day that she finally let me start petting her at all. I thought that was the coolest thing. Now she's obviously quite comfortable with us and has declared ownership over the full apartment, including our laps. She's still easily startled and very shy around anybody she doesn't know, but I'm glad she's much more normal of a cat now.

(And yes, I know, the corner by my desk is messy. I've straightened it up a bit now!)

Monday, January 7, 2008

Sexism And Hillary Clinton

Are people in this country really so backward that they would go to a Hillary Clinton speech with a sign saying "Iron My Shirt" and heckle her for being a woman? The answer, sadly, is yes. Americans disappoint me from time to time and this is yet another situation. First of all, if you don't support her, don't vote for her. That's how your opinion will be heard. Heckling her is immature and honestly, it makes me sympathize with her more. If America is really that backward of a country, then perhaps there is even more need for us to have a woman as our president.

It's idiots like these that make me think the world is doomed. I bet this dude doesn't believe in global warming either.

Friday, January 4, 2008

My Roommate's Cat!

I finally got a newer digital camera this year for Christmas. Naturally, I wanted to try out the video feature, so I pointed it at my roommate's cat. She was a bit confused about what the thing pointed at her was. Also she's kind of sick, so her meow sounds a bit off. =(

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Job Hunting

The time of me slacking is gradually coming to an end. I've started talking to a company about a potential job there. I'm still not sure I want to be in the game industry, but I may as well start seriously checking out my options.