Thursday, December 30, 2004

Lynn

OK, and here's movie mode. The original movie was 640x480 as it came off the camera, but I used Quicktime Pro to convert it to MPEG-4 and half the size to be friendly to my clandestine web host. I'm actaully quite impressed with the video and sound quality. With my memory card I should be able to take about 30 minutes of video if I wanted to.

Anyway, for those who haven't had the pleasure of meeting my baby sister Lynn, here she is. (Yeah, you'll obviously need QuickTime to watch it.)


(click to play)

By al - 1:46 PM | (7) comments | Post a Comment

Rowena

So here's the obligatory first digital camera picture with my new 4.0 megapixel piece of way-too-much-technology-to-be-trusted-in-my-hands. As a funny side note, I have steadfastly refused to install the Kodak software, and instead just took out the flash memory card and stuck it in my Laptop's card reader. Works perfectly, and no waiting for stupid USB, I can just go right to the picture I want.

Anyway, here's my dog, Rowena, in her natural habitat. Note to self: figure out what the hell this white balance stuff is all about.


(Click to enlarge)

By al - 1:24 PM | (0) comments | Post a Comment

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Online Apple IIGS Emulator!!!

Last Apple post, I swear. But this is the greatest thing ever. Found on boing boing, someone's ported an Apple IIGS emulator and stuck it inside an ActiveX control, so you can run it in your Internet Explorer window. (no firefox) And he's also collected a ton of disk images of both Apple //e and Apple IIGS software, mostly games.

This includes the greatest puzzle game ever, I.O. Silver (Direct link to play the game) by Beagle Bros.

The object of I.O. Silver was to push the blocks around so that you pushed all the blocks of the same colour into each other, in order to clear the screen. Figuring out the solution for a particular level to reduce down to just one block probably involves NP-completeness in some way. Also, while all that's going on you have to worry about a timer and not getting zapped by the little bugs that are buzzing around, which you can trap between blocks if you time your punches right, or kill by trapping them in between two blocks of the same colour as they get pushed together.



I'd nearly forgotten how awesome this game was.

Here's a blurb about Beagle Bros from Wikipedia:

Beagle Bros

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Beagle Bros was a software company that specialized in creating personal computing products that were both useful and whimsical. Their primary focus was on the Apple II family of computers.

Beagle Bros (the lack of a period at the end is intentional) was founded in 1980 by Bert Kersey and expanded over the years to include a wide variety of staff members, programmers, and designers. Whereas most software companies focused on professional users and business systems, Kersey founded the company with the intention of supporting the "hobbyist" computer users that had appeared when affordable personal computers were made available to the general public.

As a result, much of the Beagle Bros product line consists of software that put the creative power in the hands of the user or expanded popular products of other companies. Apple Mechanic allowed users to create their own shape tables (an early form of sprites) to create their own games, BeagleWorks was a series of add-on tools for the Apple version of WordPerfect.

When the Apple IIGS was released, Beagle Bros was among the first companies to release high-quality packages that took full advantage of that computer's capabilities. Both Platinum Paint GS and BeagleWrite GS are still regarded as among the high points of commercial IIGS software.

Perhaps the most memorable aspect of Beagle Bros was their use of vintage woodcut art in their print material. While many computer and software companies in the 1980s aimed for more "flashy" logos and appearances, Beagle Bros cultivated a nostalgic, almost "down-home" feel. This was in keeping with their intended mission of creating software that was user-friendly and welcoming to inexperienced computer owners that might have been more than a little frightened of their new machine.

Humor permeated Beagle Bros products, even extending to the warning label printed on their 5.25" disk jackets. Unlike most disk care labels, which warned that magnets, water, and temperature could damage disks, Beagle Bros' warning icons admonished users not to use their disks as kites, fold them into paper airplanes, or feed them to alligators.

Another delight were the "one-liner" computer programs that peppered Beagle Bros print media. Each new magazine advertisement or mailer held one or more Applesoft BASIC programs tucked away in speech balloons or whitespace. These were always extremely short yet extremely clever little programs that showcased unusual tricks or capabilities of the Apple II. At first these were written by the Beagle Bros programmers, later, their users began submitting their own. As a result, almost every Beagle Bros release came with a selection of these "miniprograms" either on disk or in the box inserts.

The end of an age came in 1991 when Beagle Bros owner Mark Simonsen licensed the Beagle Bros Apple II line to Quality Computers. BeagleWorks was licensed to WordPerfect Corporation the following year. At last report, Quality Computers was still offering Beagle Bros software for sale.

Many former "Beaglers" have continued to be involved in the creative software industry; for example, Joe Holt is one of the authors of iMovie.

Damn that's cool. Some more games I had as a kid for this thing were (click on the links to play them, you'll need to agree to install the ActiveX control in IE) Arkanoid II (amazing graphics and sound, remember this is from the days of the NES), Jungle Hunt, Marble Madness GS
, Gnarly Golf, and the super-awesome (and sprite-intensive) Rastan. A great adventure game was Deja Vu (which I remember from NES) That one also boots into the GS/OS system software, sort of like the Mac OS, only it had a few things they didn't add to Mac OS until about version 6 or 7.


(Click to enlarge)


For a real computer nerd getting to re-live your first machine is sort of like getting to have sex with kiss your first girlfriend all over again.

The other fun trick with the IIGS was that it had a BASIC interpreter built right into the ROM, so all you had to do was hit Control-Reset and you could write BASIC. I remember all the old computer magazines always had program listings for C=64, and I had to not only copy them out, but had to change the code so that it would work with AppleSoft's version of BASIC. God that was a pain in the arse, but I loved it when I got them to work.

By al - 8:26 PM | (0) comments | Post a Comment

More Apple Stuff - Nice Gesture on Apple.com

Apologies for the Apple-centered posts of late. But here's one more. I was pleasantly surprised to see apple.com's front page, where they usually have a big picture of the latest iPod or PowerBook, has a nice simple message about the tsunami in Asia, and links to aid organizatoins, even in the little product boxes under the main picture.


(click to enlarge)

By al - 7:25 PM | (0) comments | Post a Comment

Apple Developer Connection Christmas Card

Wow, it's not too often that a software company sends its developers Christmas cards, I feel special now :)
Dear ADC members,

As we near the end of 2004, the Apple Developer Connection would like to thank you for your support of Apple platforms and technologies this year. Your thoughtful feedback is greatly appreciated and has helped us continue to evolve ADC to support your success. This was a busy and productive year for Apple and for the ADC community. This special message recaps some of the highlights of 2004 and points to some of the latest resources available to our members.

Have a great holiday and we’ll see you in 2005!

Apple Developer Connection

By al - 1:15 AM | (0) comments | Post a Comment

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Memos: Winter Wonderland Edition

  • Along with the usual selection of sweaters (like I needed any more of those) and dress shirts that I got for xmas, my cousin made the excellent choice of Looney Tunes - Golden Collection, Volume Two. Along with Golden Collection, Volume One which I bought for myself last year, I now own over 120 Looney Tunes shorts. This means I never need to watch any other TV again. Awesome. Also, if I ever have kids, this may be the only thing I'll want to let them watch.
  • I watched the Spongebob Squarepants Movie again, and I was amazed at home many jokes they lifted directly from the first season of “Ren & Stimpy”, aside from many gags that were lifted straight from the R&S scripts, Spongebob also used the famous John K. technique of showing a gruesomely detailed still shot of a character's face. The facial expressions were one of the best parts of the movie, much more attention to detail than you usually see in the TV show. Best line of the movie, by Mindy the Mermaid to Spongebob and Patrick: “close your eyes ... and I'll turn you into men.&rdqou; Amazing what they can sneak by.
  • Just ordered this Kodak Easyshare CX7430 4.0MP Digital Camera along with an SD memory card that will work with my Toshiba Satellite's SD / SmartMedia built-in card slot. God bless boxing day sales. Many pictures of dogs and snow shall surely ensue shortly. You have been warned.
  • Along with the memory card slot, I'm on a quest to use all of the neat features that came with my laptop that I haven't ever had anything to use it with. Just this week I dug out my old Palm m100 (still a great little PDA) and got Hotsync working over the infrared IrDA port. W00, no more stupid dock to drag around. I might actually end up using my Palm for real work. Next up: firewire, possibly an external DVD burner (or maybe in iPod if any of my promised bonuses from work materialize).
  • My cousins have a half-chihuahua half-terrier which recently had puppies from a chihuahua. The result is the single most adorable, tiny little dog who can sit right on your shoulder and snuggle into your armpit to sleep. I'm in love. My sister took a picture with the little guy on my shoulder, I'll try and get it scanned and post it.
  • My god I love Christmas dinner at my grandparents' place. The one time of year I get to have goose, probably my favourite kind of meat, but that might be because it's from a farmer down the road instead of grown in a factory, featherless, beakless, in the dark and sitting in its own shit like most chicken you get these days. I also need to start cooking with turnips and parsnips more often. I think I'm officially grown up now, as I was definitely looking forward to the dinner moreso than presents. Christmas eve dinner is also a big deal with my family, we always have lobster casserole, along with scallops and salmon and really good noodles that my aunt makes. God I can't wait till next Christmas.

By al - 7:25 PM | (0) comments | Post a Comment

Parking a new problem

I have managed to spring free from my mothers place. So at least she can't hold me captive to the horrible TV shows she watches and well the dogs can get a well deserved nap.

However now that I am back in Charlottetwon I found my parking space to be a big pile of snow. Okay well I have a shovel I started to the daunting task of digging out the parking space. I worked on it for about an hour. I was just starting to see some progress when the plow comes by and fills my space back in.

I would have started over but I figured there was no use until they actually starting removing the snow. So I thought I would check out my sisters place and see what I can do about parking there. This too was a no go. Large drift covered the majority of that parking lot. I had a few choice words I spoke at that point.
So Now I have abandon my car in a quaint corner of the parking lot of my apartment. Hopping it will not be in anyone's way.

By Sabrina - 3:46 PM | (1) comments | Post a Comment

Monday, December 27, 2004

Finding new ways to stick it to the man...

So my family is in town for the Holidays, so we decided to go on a tour of the parliament buildings. So were waiting in the lobby for the tour to start, and I see a stack of newspapers over in the corner. I figured they were there for people to read while you waited so I went over and started looking through them. I soon discovered that they weren't actually there for public consumption, but were actually addressed to different MP's. So I flip through the pile looking for anyone of note. Best I could do was to find a National Post addressed to Stephen Harper. So I took it. Take THAT Conservative party of Canada. Let's see how well informed you are now!

By Peter - 7:58 PM | (3) comments | Post a Comment

Remote Access

This is really cool. I had to leave my file server partially updated when I left the Island last weekend due to time constraints. Setting up ssh on both my web server and my file server is starting to pay off, as I can now tunnel into my home network via ssh. Currently, I'm remotely updating my file server from Grand Falls. I left a bittorrent client open when I left, so I remotely closed it and logged off the session it was using. There's something about not being able to get home due to a snow storm and still being able to get stuff done at home that I find appealing. Why do I get the feeling people are thinking I'm a nut right now?

By Ming - 3:25 PM | (0) comments | Post a Comment

Stuck in Grand Falls

Drove up to Grand Falls yesterday to pickup the Legacy. Mom got me to stay the night and now I'm stuck here until at least tomorrow when the storm clears up. Luck for me, I managed to steal wireless access off the neighbours. Unfortunately, my mom doesn't have TSN. Now, if I can find a place to watch the Canada-Sweden game I might be okay. . . .

The Legacy's a gas-guzzler, but it'll be nice to have back on the road. I'll have the Celica all fixed up sometime in January. . . and I'll be mostly broke there after. Just lovely.

By Ming - 1:23 PM | (0) comments | Post a Comment

PEI is a trap

Well I am currently stuck at my parents place in western PEI. Honestly we are only a few hundred meters west of the sign which says "Welcome to wastern PEI". I am bored. I have played with the dogs so much that they have gone into hiding so that they can get a much need nap. By hiding they are sound a sleep in my fathers hunting room with my father. The three of them can really make some noise with the snoring. Rather fascinating to tell the truth. I have since Christmas day watch so much TV I think I am going curl up and turn into a potato. I have discovered that TV really is a good way to let your life slip by unnoticed. By watching TV one promotes a form of media which makes no recording of the fact that you actually ever existed. For some that is okay but it does very little to help us boost our social lives. I do enough complaining about my lack of social life that I don't need TV to help me.
My mother is currently watching one of her dozen or so programs. She complains that I never visit her but all she does is watch the tube. Leaving me to entertain myself. The dogs help sometimes but they are getting old now and play sessions are much shorter. If you can get them to play for 10 minutes you are normally doing okay. But I can't complain they are 14, which in dog hears is nearing the century mark.(98 if you say each dog year is = 7 human one) My mind now pictures a lady of 100 playing with small children. I am sure she would only last a few minutes.
Dad finds time to fiddle with this thing and that. Mostly just playing. So now I am writing my woes on blog.
I was hopping to be back in my apartment working on a Woman's blade or fixing something with the pile of tools my parents decided I need. It's kind of interesting.

Well I hope everyone enjoyed a happy calm holiday

By Sabrina - 1:20 PM | (0) comments | Post a Comment

Sunday, December 26, 2004

Some thoughts on the Opera 8.0 Beta

(Click for larger screenshot) OK, I was in the middle of writing a review of the Opera 8.0 Beta web browser, but I pressed a key combination that I would have thought would take me to the next tab, and it decided to erase my entire blog post.

So, in conclusion: Screw Opera, Opera sucks.

Things I did mention, when I was in a less foul mood, were that it is faster than FireFox, and handles tabs better. It lets you click on a tab and drag it out of the window and have that page become its own window. This could be implemented in FireFox fairly easily, though it would probably look like hell compared to Opera's much slicker UI.

Opera has voice support which, as far as I can tell, is pretty much useless, as you have to press a key on the keyboard before it will 'listen to you', to tell it to go back or refresh the page. Whoever thought that was a good HCI move should be fired. You also have to be loud, clear and slow when giving it voice commands, basically like talking to your deaf grandparents. Much easier just to use the keyboard. This bit of Microsoftian feature-creep is killing the veneer of Opera as a slick, no-nonsense piece of software. Granted it is only a Beta, but I can't see a use for this at all.

Opera's HTML handling still isn't up to par. Gmail now works, which is good, despite the fact that it wil tell you it isn't supported. Just click 'sign in anyway' and it will work just fine. Blogger's Composer still isn't supported at all, despite working perfectly well in FireFox and Internet Explorer. They should be working on fixing problems with the renderer before adding bullshit like voice input support.

Anyway, the beta is available to download from ftp://ftp.opera.com/pub/opera/win/800b1/en/std/ow32enen800b1.exe, and its worth a try, but I'll wait until the final release comes out before I'll consider replacing FireFox as my default web browser.

For the improved speed alone it is definitely 'almost there'.

By al - 10:09 PM | (0) comments | Post a Comment

Friday, December 24, 2004

Best Out-of-Context MSN Conversation Ever

al says:
so what's been on your mind lately?

--- says:
sex

al says:
great minds think alike I guess :)

--- says:
want to go for a drive?

al says:
sure.

By al - 7:00 AM | (0) comments | Post a Comment

Thursday, December 23, 2004

Coincidental Puns on the Halfshell

So apparently the puppeteer who did the part of Michaelangelo in the first Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie is named Michelan Sisti. His IMDB page gives him a real birthdate and place, so I can only assume it isn't a pseudonym à la Alan Smithee. (Sisti / Sistine, get it? huh? get it?)

The part of Casey Jones is played by the proto-'Canadian actor who turns up absolutely everywhere', Elias Koteas. I have a theory that Koteas' inclusion in the cast of The Thin Red Line was both a necessary and sufficient reason for it to be listed as being a Canadian as well as American movie (where movies that have Toronto subbing in for New York, but are otherwise American productions are only listed as 'USA' in IMDB).

Another interesting tidbit about the first (and best, natch) Ninja Turtles movie is that each of the actors / puppeteers who played the turtles played some other part in the movie as well. Mr. Sisti actually played the pizza delivery guy and ended up having an argument with himself because he couldn't find the sewer grate where Michaelangelo wanted the pizza delivered.

This scene contained the best line in the entire movie, and one which I quote often: “Wise men say: forgiveness is divine, but never pay full price for a late pizza.”

By al - 5:03 AM | (0) comments | Post a Comment

More than meets the eye

Now that I have the internet, I've been seeing what's out there. This particular link isn't overly new - except perhaps by geological standards - but when you're rather fond of cars and cars that turn into dancing robots, well, sometimes you post stuff.

So enjoy. And yes, I do realize that most blog readers will enjoy it less than I did, but that's OK.

Dancing Car

By Silent_G - 1:13 AM | (1) comments | Post a Comment

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Using Skype to Practice a Second Language

I've continued to play with the Skype software and I've run across a phenomenon that I hadn't really thought about, but which looks very promising.

I was looking at a couple of Skype groups on Orkut, and along-side the usual general group (which seems to be dominated entirely by Portuguese-speaking Brazilians on the message board) there is also a Skype Language Practice group. The idea is that you post your name and your Skype ID, and your native language and if you are looking to learn a language, the language you wish to practice.

It seems to work out that you have simple voice conversations with someone and you can help them practice speaking and back-and-forth of language. Something you don't get to do much of in the usual language courses, where you are speaking with classmates or a teacher who is dividing his / her time over the whole class. Talking to other classmates is not often desirable, either, because of the temptation to drop back into your native language instead of doing the useful exercise of trying to describe the word you are looking for to the other person.

I'm working on language instruction software, so I'm becoming interested in the way people learn to speak a language. The usual routine of studying, assignments and tests is even poorer for teaching language than it is for teaching other subjects. (No one learned to be a good programmer while attending university lectures.)

By connecting people together Orkut has finally become useful as a social networking tool, and the users get to act simultaneously as students and teachers, since everyone has a native language that someone else might be trying to learn. So the give-and-take between users helps keep the system going, and isn't relying on a couple of generous people with a lot of time and patience the way something like a tech support forum or Linux users' group does.

This use was also not one that the Skype people thought of, as they look to get into the voice-over-IP business and to grab a chunk of the IM market.

Things that grow up by themselves, and aren't just another cash grab, and is for the purpose of spreading knowledge is always very inspiring, and reminds me why the internet is different from every other communication medium.

By al - 5:51 PM | (0) comments | Post a Comment

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Rantings. . . .

Installed SuSE 9.1 personal edition on the laptop to test around with. I was having problems getting the X server working with Mandrake 10.1 under VMWare. From what I can see, SuSE is pretty nice. I've been forced to use KDE as GNOME wasn't on the CD I got, but it hasn't been too bad. Overall, it's a really nice distro. . . probably be nice to get the full CD set to do a better comparision, but looking good so far.

Less than a week until Christmas and I haven't started my Christmas shopping, haven't done any preparations for Christmas. . . not that I don't have any Christmas spirit or anything like that. Christmas, for me anyways, is starting up awfully late this year. It's been pretty hectic with the new job, commuting back and forth. . . being pretty much broke doesn't help either. Anyways, I start my shopping tonight. Good thing my shopping list is short!

I know I mentioned it before, but my sister and my mom keep on pestering me about it. My sister was asking me when I was going to bring my bed down to her house. As much as my sister wants me to be "at home" at "her house", "her house" is not "my house". If I moved my bed over, where would I sleep when I went "home". I've given up on trying to impress this point on them, they don't listen to me anyways. Along the same line of thinking, I haven't told them I'm going "home" on the 27th, after all the Christmas family stuff is officially over. Figured I'd try to avoid as much of the flack as possible.

Actually, they shouldn't be surprised. After all, I've been spending after-Christmas with friends for years now. My sort-of adopted tradition of watching the world junior tounament over the Christmas break stems from me being at my friend's house and watching the games with his family. My mom always hated my friends. I'm guessing stuff like this was part of it.

Anyways, GO CANADA!

By Ming - 1:51 PM | (1) comments | Post a Comment

Monday, December 20, 2004

Simpsons Trivia!!

I'll just go and quote the whole blog post announcing it. From here:
Simpsons Trivia
Although I have finished my trivia reign at Bernies, I have talked to the owners and set up a Huge Simpsons Trivia night like I did last year. I figure right before Christmas would be a good time, a nice huge Trivia Prize pot, and lots of door prizes, with 50/50 as well. For some reason I am expecting more people at this one the last.

The Date of this event is Tuesday December 21st - 8:00pm. Cost will be $5.00 a person, which like usual, all entrance fees will be disburst as prize money, so the more that play the more a team will win.

As for Door prizes, I am starting early, Jolene has offered to do the bulk of the work collecting them. She has done this type of thing before looking for donations from different companies.

So get everyone you know and show up. If you have never been to one of my trivias before this is going to be the biggest of them all.
Taylor and other smart uber-nerds: You're coming.

Someone with a car: You're driving us to Summerside. And I might let you on the team. Will have to assess the competition to see if I can take the whole room by myself (done this several times and won) or if I'll need some help.

Everyone else: Prepare to be trivialized.

By al - 3:58 AM | (1) comments | Post a Comment

Sunday, December 19, 2004

Memos: Do I Have a Job? Edition

  • Had an absolutely amazing holiday dinner with some people from work at the Interlude Café here in Charlottetown. The courses were a special world-sampler deal, and it was amazing.
    • coconut chicken soup (thailand)
    • asparagus crab salad (japan)
    • pork + cabbage stuffed xmas wraps (chinese)
    • pineapple drizzled ginger shrimps (philipines)
    • green tea pudding (taiwan)

    Had to be the biggest shrimp I've ever seen, the kind that stare you down before you work up the nerve to tear it out of the shell and eat it. And the green tea pudding was like nothing I'd ever had before, it came in this little cup, little delicate looking jello-type pieces with honey on top. The smell alone made me smile unconsciously.

    They also have almond milk tea now which is just about the perfect thing to warm you up after a long walk in the cold trying to tire out your ridiculously energetic dog.

  • Speaking of dogs, got Rowena back from the groomer on Wednesday, we decided to trade the mop for a faux-whippet thing. Poodles with really short hair are actually really nice looking dogs. She seemed to be pretty displeased with the loss of her extra size, spent the next day sooking on her blanket and not doing anything. She seems OK with it now, though.
  • Went to a house warming party for someone at work, I'm left to wonder if I'll ever have a nice place like it, it's one of those older houses in Charlottetown that can be had for a pretty good price and just need some fixing up. (and by ‘some’ I mean ‘lots’)
  • Funniest joke I've read in a long time:
    Q: Why do lobsters make good pets?
    A: Because they don't bark, and they know the secrets of the deep.
    Came from Roger Ebert's review of the Spongebob Square Pants movie, which is so full of innuendo that basically the entire movie had me saying to myself “Did that just happen?”
  • I'm currently reading Pangea Software's Ultimate game Programming Guide for Mac OS X. It's quite useful so far, lots of techniques that aren't obvious or trivial that come in quite handy. I'll post a full review after I finish and apply a few of the tricks they describe in the book.

By al - 2:40 PM | (2) comments | Post a Comment

Friday, December 17, 2004

Two Weeks Off and Nowhere to Go

Well, thanks to some issues I'm haivng I get to spend the next 2.5 weeks of time off while we move offices doing absolutely nothing of interest.

It's been kind of hard to read anything lately as well.. I'm hoping it's temporary, I'm going to have to see the eye doctor before this gets worse.

Of course it would be a perfect end to a year that's been so strangely twisted in how it seems like I have finally have my thesis finished, only to find that what works in simulation has serious issues when you try to turn it into a circuit, or that just because a girl pays tons of attention to you at several parties that she might still totally forget about you all the rest of the time.. or that the job you miraculously found when you needed one so badly turns out to be an endurance exercise in itself.

I guess it just goes to show that simply moving won't make all the problems you had in your old place go away. You get to keep most of those while getting a whole new set thrown at you to deal with at the same time.

Even the ones you're supposed to be able to trivially forget about, like a crush on a girl who seems to like you but doesn't seem to want to do anytihng to spend any time with you.. you'd think it would be easy enough to just say "ok, bye now," but then she, right before you leave, wants to see you and tell you how much she's going to miss you.. maybe it's just her being nice / polite, but it's enough to pierce the bubble of closure.

It's times like these that I can understand why people abuse chemicals.

By al - 1:59 PM | (1) comments | Post a Comment

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Computer Building

Finished building a computer for Greg over the weekend and he was over to pick it up last night. There's a mix of technical expertise and some artistry that goes into crafting a good computer. I think that's one of the things I like most about working with computers. Timewise, it took a bit longer to get this one out the door. . . not being home during the week, problems with getting parts, a dead power supply; apologies to Greggu. Hopefully, getting a great computer more than compensates the tardiness. Anyways, hoping to see Greggu online soon. I'll let Greg brag about what his new computer does :-p

By Ming - 10:03 AM | (3) comments | Post a Comment

Memos: Totally Missed Another Boat Edition

  • I finally got to watch the first few episodes of “Six Feet Under” today. Obviously it's way too earlly to make a judgment call on a TV series that people have been obsessing over for 4 seasons now, but the one thing I did notice was that I laughed at all the parts that were supposed to be dramatic. (I think they were anyway..) I just find the entire show hilarious. Another thing I noticed was that all of the major characters were introduced in terms of a sexual encounter they had. The mother by confessing to an affair, the brothers by one being gay and the other having sex in an airport, and the girl by getting mixed up with a slightly derranged schoolmate. The traditional way of introducing a character was to show him or her doing his or her hobby or job.. but I have a feeling sex will be the main hobby of most of these characters. I can hardly wait..
  • I took my dog for a long walk on Sunday, when it was raining and muddy.. had a great old time letting her off the leash in the park and chasing her around though. As much as she slips and slides on a hardwood floor she has a fair bit of grip on wet grass, unlike me. So it was interesting. I think she was a bit irked that I wouldn't let her in the house until I cleaned the buckets of mud from her feet, though. She's getting groomed tomorrow, I almost hate to think what she'll look like when she's not a shaggy sheep-looking thing.
  • I got a version of J.S. Bach's Flute Sonatas done by Jean Pierre Rampal (Amazon link). It doesn't happen often, but really, really good music will cause shivers to go up and down my spine. This is the first piece of music for which that's happened to me in a quite a while.
  • I highly recommend going to Cora's and getting one of their pile-of-fruit-on-a-plate breakfasts, they're the perfect antidote to gray winters. Perhaps it was the great company I went with, but it really did me good :)

By al - 1:03 AM | (0) comments | Post a Comment

Monday, December 13, 2004

A woman's prerogative

So finally back in Korea...was very sad to leave Thailand and to end the travelling...although I have to say that a month of backpacking felt like 3...

Saw lots of great stuff and met lots of great people...got to talk to all sorts of strange cats and am now a certified Thai masseur...

Landed in Korea and immediately started FREEZING! It was 28 degrees when I left Bangkok and it was 2 when I got to Seoul...best get used to it now before getting to Alberta, I guess...

So while I was travelling I did some thinking and decided that my earlier decision to return to Korea was misguided and premature. I have since cancelled my new contract and I will be staying on Canadian soil upon my return...

...at least until Nathalie gets married and I have enough saved up to go travelling again...

By chantal - 1:08 AM | (0) comments | Post a Comment

Saturday, December 11, 2004

War is a Racket by Smedley Butler

This post on MonkeyFilter is too good not to share as a post: Link.
War Is a Racket. After decades in the Marine Corps, Major General Smedley Butler wrote a brief book explaining his views of the whole enterprise. (The entire text is online.) H e went on to claim that he was a gangster for capitalism.

By al - 1:40 AM | (0) comments | Post a Comment

Friday, December 10, 2004

RahXephon

Finally finished watching RahXephon last night. While watching it, it was fairly enjoyable. In hindsight, it doesn't fair so well. Basically if you take Evangelion, Dual, Macross, and mash them together. . . that's RahXephon in a nutshell. I admit, my primary reason for watching it was the fact Maaya was in the series. As much as I like her, it's still an unimpressive series. Mildly entertaining, but overall unimpressive.

I have this feeling I've watched the better anime and now I'm starting to dip into the more average stuff. It might be time to start working on my video game backlog.

By Ming - 10:23 AM | (0) comments | Post a Comment

How you could have gotten rich in 2 years..

If, 2 years ago, you had borrowed $1 million USD, and just put it in a French bank account, where they pay 5% interest (this is legal as long as you declare it on your taxes), between the interest earned and the change in value of the Euro over the US Dollar, you would have earned a 50% return on investment.

And back then, when the Euro was worth $.90USD, I did have the thought that it would go up...

Damn.

By al - 1:43 AM | (1) comments | Post a Comment

Napoleon Dynamite is hilarious.

I don't know how it is that I haven't seen Napoleon Dynamite until tonight. It's one of those movies that are marketed almost precisely to my demographic, kids in their 20s who are still baffled by how they survived high school with their sanity intact.

The unique thing about this movie is the absolute lack of attempt to make you like any of the characters. Willfully clueless to social norms and even basic human interaction, you sort of think "my god was I ever even remotely this awkward looking to other people?"

You don't get the luxury of a sanitized, just-a-nice-guy-who's-misunderstood movie version of the high school loser, you also get the rude, anti-social, actively apathetic and generally hard to like distorted mirror showing what a kid with no friends and a supremely odd family can be like.

I love it, but it's almost scary how well it pinpointed me as a target market.

By al - 1:23 AM | (0) comments | Post a Comment

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Why do people pay money for toilet paper and throw out junk mail?

I just had that thought as I dumped a load of flyers into the recycling today. In the olden days, when kids behaved themselves and farming was a viable livelihood, the most common place to find the Eaton's catalog was in the outhosuse. Now this leaves me to wonder, which came first, toilet paper sold to consumers or glossy paper used in catalogs, and did one precipitate the adoption of the other? Surely it was a paper company behind both market pushes, perhaps they smartly realized they could cut down on the re-use of their product and get an extra sale out of it.

Now, like everyone I've known the discomfort of realizing you didn't check if there was any toilet paper left before laying some cable, and having to look for a substitute, and I know that we as a society simply can't go back to the days of scratchy crumpled up catalog pages.

But why not wed the world's of bullshit and human shit once again, for the benefit of advertizers and consumers?

Why not produce rolls and rolls of toilet paper with advertizements printed on them, and give it away for free? People get the free toilet paper, like they used to, and advertizers get yet another opportunity to showcase their product to a captive, and let's face it, often bored, audience.

The trick is to find a sufficiently mild ink to use so that the black-fingers newspaper readers experience won't be a problem for our more sensitive bits. Perhaps garish full-colour ads could be replaced, at least in the beginning, by outlines and simple text. This would make the concept more palatable to the average consumer as well. And then there's the decorative option, of creating an advertizement in the quilting pattern of the paper itself, much like with that fancy-schmancy paper towel they sell on the teevee.

The possibilities are mind blowing. Even charging advertizers a fraction of one cent per square would land windfall profits to someone taking on this idea.

The potential profits are simply phenomenal.

By al - 8:47 PM | (2) comments | Post a Comment

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

50 Facts

This is inspired by Kayla's post over at the Fem-Tube. Let's get started.
  1. I can't drive, so I walk everywhere.
  2. I think nothing of walking for an hour to get somewhere.
  3. I had a cat for 21 years and never gave her a name. (Kitty was her de facto name.)
  4. My cat is the only thing I know I loved unconditionally.
  5. I read newspapers obsessively, but find the writing terrible.
  6. I refuse to use the word 'contact' as a verb. (Nero Wolfe fans represent!)
  7. Christmas and my birthday both depress me, not because of getting older or anything, just the idea that I'm obligated to do something on that day for no real reason other than because people normally do such things.
  8. I believe in God on some level.
  9. My favourite show as a kid was Wonderstruck on CBC.
  10. I even got the Wonderstruck book filled with Kitchen Demo science experiment ideas you could do at home.
  11. I don't know anything about cooking pastries beyond following boxed instructions.
  12. I still have nearly all of my university textbooks on my bookshelf.
  13. I've gone back and read the un-assigned portions of at least 4 of them.
  14. My favourite computer that I've ever owned was my Apple IIGS.
  15. I still think that Super Mario Bros. 3 was the pinnacle of interactive entertainment.
  16. I very easily get mild crushes on older, smarter women.
  17. I never know how to address my friends' parents.
  18. At university I always ate roughtly the same thing every single day for breakfast: one orange juice, one milk, one cranberry juice, 2 fried eggs over hard, french toast or pancakes or whatever they had that day and bacon or sausage if they had it. Then a cup of coffee afterwards.
  19. I make better coffee than most people, but have a high tolerance for bad coffee if I'm just after caffeine.
  20. I've read everything I could find by Dostoyevsky.
  21. I read the Hobbit when I was seven and it scared the bejesus out of me.
  22. ... especially gollum.
  23. I hated gollum so much that my skin crawled every time he was on the screen in the movie and all I could do the entire time was hate him with every ounce of my strength, the comic value of his antics was completely lost on me.
  24. Raphael was my favourite ninja turtle.
  25. Of the four ninja turtles' namesake artists, Leonardo da Vinci would b emy favourite.
  26. I've never been west of Ontario or south of Boston.
  27. I hate airports.
  28. When I look at myself in the mirror the way the bathroom light hits the hair on my temples it looks like I'm going grey, which has me constantly paranoid.
  29. I just corrected the spelling of 'grey' in the above post from the incorrect 'gray' to the correct, Canadian 'grey'.
  30. My favourite bugs bunny characters are Daffy Duck and Foghorn Leghorn, perhaps because of their ambiguity as either heros or foils.
  31. I laugh uncontrollably at funny cartoons, to the point where people thought I was having a seizure.
  32. I love little babies, until they get old enough to talk, then they make mer nervous.
  33. I was the only one of the 'smart kids' in my grade 6 class who didn't try out for band. By grade 9 all of the guys except 1 and nearly all of the girls had quit.
  34. I learned to play guitar on my own and ended up being more into music than nearly all the band kids, but never got school credit for it.
  35. I always cheer for Brazil in the world cup, but pay no attention to soccer at any other time.
  36. I was offered a scholarship at UPEI but turned it down because I was sick of PEI.
  37. PEI was the last place I expected to end up back working after University.
  38. It's not so bad.
  39. I won't remember a person's name until I hear it at least 3 times.
  40. I would rather read a non-fiction book on any subject than a novel most days.
  41. My sister and I had a horse when I was a teenager.
  42. I was a better natural rider than she was, but she was the one who really loved doing it, and I eventually backed off so she could be the one to go to competitions and things.
  43. I have a birthmark on my left hand palm. It's how I used to tell my left from my right when I was a kid.
  44. No matter how I eat or exercise I never gain or lose any weight.
  45. My favourite food is Pogos and / or pasta with cream sauce.
  46. I've never liked ketchup.
  47. I've been able to use chopsticks since I was 10.
  48. My favourite band is Queen.
  49. There is nothing hanging on my walls at the moment, but I have 5 posters rolled up in my closet, but I can't be arsed to put them up.
  50. I love my job.

By al - 8:02 PM | (4) comments | Post a Comment

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Sounds Awesome

Princess 제이마--..I need fire...not this frozen sea inside me says: (2:24:12 PM)
   soju on the other hand..is bitter..tastes a lot like weird vodka...is only a dollar a bottle..and will FUCK your head and your stomach for a couple days if it's ur first time

Princess 제이마--..I need fire...not this frozen sea inside me says: (2:24:34 PM)
   and it seems like nothing...u'll drink it..and then all of a sudden it'll hit u like a ton of bricks..u lose your memory, go crazy..go into bouts of anger etc

Princess 제이마--..I need fire...not this frozen sea inside me says: (2:25:00 PM)
   it's nasty stuff..i have to be careful when i drink it..i always lose my memory etc...and i wake up int he morning not knowing how or when i got home

Princess 제이마--..I need fire...not this frozen sea inside me says: (2:25:19 PM)
   apparently, according to my friends i even kiss boys when i drink soju

Princess 제이마--..I need fire...not this frozen sea inside me says: (2:25:21 PM)
   tha'ts news to me

al (No I'm not going to not finish my cereal just to get to work on time.) says: (2:25:27 PM)
   like hell it is

Princess 제이마--..I need fire...not this frozen sea inside me says: (2:25:32 PM)
   kkk, ok ok ok

By al - 2:31 PM | (1) comments | Post a Comment

Memos: Trying a New Title Edition

  • Memo to every other person besides us who works in the Atlantic Technology Centre: Nobody is impressed that you supposedly work in a high-tech company. Every company in that building is living off of government contracts just like everyone else in this sorry city. And it really wouldn't kill you to return a 'hello' on an elevator now and then.
  • There's a new little Starbucks in the ground floor of the ATC. I've figured out why they don't call it 'small', 'medium' and 'large' and instaed say 'grande' 'whatever' and 'somethingelse', it's because they don't want you to realize you're paying $2 for a fucking SMALL.
  • --- Post about xmas shopping removed. You never know who reads this thing.
  • I was out at the Formosa Tea House with my mother last weekend where she said the funniest thing ever, as she was inspecting the sushi that the waitress placed in front of her she said "It looks like man-made cucumber slices." I thought it was funny, anyway.
  • My dog needs to seriously realize that just because she's outside and we're inside doesn't mean she's been abandoned forever.
  • Lesson #3 of good program design: instead of going of to create the best data structure ever, write the algorithm you're going to use it in first, and then you only need to write those particular needed functions right away, and as you test your program and the structure you can fill in the rest afterwards instead of having a large hurtle to get over before you can do anything. They don't teach you this in school because they want to get you to fully write each class one at a time it would seem, by the way the assignments are structured.
  • Memo to the staff at St. James Gate: Switching CDs when Black Sabbath's War Pigs comes on cost you a portion of your tip tonight. Next time think before putting on some trendy accoustic blues CD that no one cares about.
  • Second-best office prank ever if you're a woman: randomly leave pairs of your underwear in random places around the office, and act completely surprised and bewildered when your boss finds them and brings them to you. Carry this on for about 6 months until your boss is absolutely losing his (or her) sanity.
  • Officially completely sick of TV. The last sow that I enjoy watching, The Daily Show, is getting old, probably because the subject matter is just too easy to make fun of, it's sort of like heckling an elementary school play where the kids are murdering each other.

By al - 1:41 AM | (4) comments | Post a Comment

Saturday, December 04, 2004

Iron Maiden are still the best metal band ever

I used to call myself a heavy metal fan. I still proudly call myself an Iron Maiden fan.

This was confirmed tonight when I acquired and listened to Tribute to the Beast vol. 2: A Tribute to Iron Maiden. (I haven't listened to vol. 1 yet, perhaps it's a little better.) To my former self's shame, I had only heard of one of the groups on the album who recorded Maiden cover sons, Anthrax. (And not the cool Anthrax of the 80s, but the lame, proto-Linkin Park hip-hoppy, too much bass Anthrax of the 90s) All of the groups on the album have 2 things in common, though. They can neither sing nor play as well as the group they're paying tribute to.

The mixing is way too distorted on most of them, half the groups have retarded-sounding death metal growlers instead of singers, and the guitar playing is sloppy and secondary to most of the groups' need to have really pounding bass and drum lines. If this is what heavy metal has turned into then I know I'm not missing much. The lead guitar tracks also lack the very clean, almost keyboard-sounding quality of Dave Murray's precise solos.

Now, to be fair, not a single other band were ever able to sing songs about slaying dragons with high-pitched singers without looking ridiculous (Dio, etc.), so Maiden stand alone in being able to pull it off. Well, I'd add Megadeth to that category too, if Dave Mustaine wasn't such a cock-monger, but they could still play the shit out of their instruments.

Maiden also had wicked stage presence, and you could suspend your disbelief that you're actually enjoying this theatrical nonsense with a cyborg skeleton thing shooting lasers at the singer, chasing him around the stage. As faggy and stupid as it would be when other bands tried it, Eddie was just too cool for any of us to say otherwise.

OK, there is one interesting track on this album, it's an acoustic version of the song “Strange World” by a group called Mago de Oz. It does the opposite of all the other covers on the album, it brings out what a great song it is by letting the notes ring out clearly, and giving you a new, interesting angle on the song (as opposed to the other groups that sound like me playing the songs with too much distortion to hide my mistakes. shhh.)

My other favourite rock band is Queen, though, and come to think of it they have a lot in common with Iron Maiden as far as guitar sound (on their heavier stuff) and the way they were very theatrical on stage.

I think I'll go dig up my Maiden discs and my copies of Queen I and Queen II and have myself a night of good old fashioned high-school metal geekery.

PS. The Darkness suck monkey nads.

By al - 10:06 PM | (0) comments | Post a Comment

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

The Take — Occupy, Resist, Produce

I've said it many times before, but it is well worth repeating, thank God for City Cinema. I was very excited to see that they were showing this movie, when I first heard about it on “Democracy NOW!” it was only playing at a couple of places in big cities. Which is why I was even more disappointed to see that I was the only person there tonight to see it. Sure the weather probably had something to do with it, but I'm nonetheless terribly disappointed in my fellow Islanders, who grew up with the Co-Op movement in their back yards, to not want to see the modern equivalent played out in Argentina.

The documentary itself plays more like a news item, or piece of investigative journalism like you would find on CBC Newsworld rather than the stylized big productions like Michael Moore's films or other documentaries that have come out lately. This is why I still maintain that Canadians (in this case Avi Lewis and Naomi Klein) make the best documentaries. They don't put themselves in front of the camera hardly at all, and they even keep the narration down and just let the factory workers speak for themselves and tell their own stories.

The movie is about the economic collapse in Argentina that happened a few years ago. The government at the time was whole-heartedly embracing the guidelines of the IMF and World Bank, privatizing everything they could, selling off the whole of the public works to private companies in order to qualify for IMF loans. But as the country's economic house of cards began to fall apart, the owners of the factories scooped up their money and whisked it out of the country, just as the bank accounts of every citizen were frozen.

This left many factories standing still, with the workers out of work and the owners owing millions in unpaid salaries and loans from the government (i.e., the public). The workers in one case followed by the filmmakers realized that the amount owed to them was exactly equal to the cost of the factory, so they simply asked that they be given ownership of the factory and the ability to run it on their own. A great deal of legal wrangling ensued, but in the meantime the workers just walked in, broke the locks, and started up the machinery.

Now, here's the ‘lightbulb moment’, or one of them anyway: the workers were able to run the factory much more efficiently than the previous owners ever could have. Each of the workers were paid equally (in the one case, each factory and each situation is different.) Everyone supervised each other, decisions were made by voting, with the person who knows a certain area the best getting to speak, and be listened to. Also, workers carried themselves differently. No one ever snuck off to take a break when the boss wasn't looking, if they saw a light that was on that didn't need to be they'd turn it off. Everyone worked hard and honestly because they were doing it for their campañeros and their families, so they held each other up.

The very first factory to be taken over by the workers was a garment factory staffed by middle-aged seamstresses who would otherwise never have been part of the management team of the factory. Before it was closed they were under the same pressures as every other textile workforce in the world, work harder and for less money or the factory is moved to someplace where the people will. Well, the factory closed, but the workers didn't go anywhere, they just kept at their sewing machines, and sold the product themselves.

One woman who worked at the Brukman factory described the accounting that she now handled, saying that she didn't know why it was so hard for the previous owners to make money and pay the workers and buy the material, for her it was just a matter of adding and subtracting. She wasn't trying to squeeze loans from the government or pay out big bonuses to managers, her task was simply to make sure more money came in than went out, and that ended up being easier than everyone thought.

The other important factor to the story of these workers taking their livelihoods into their own hands is the support they have in the community in Buenos Aires. Everyone the filmmakers talked to love what the workers are doing for themselves. They saw the government waste and corruption first-hand. They saw their first-world economy collapse because of the IMF policies, and they saw the owners escaping with their nation's wealth, and they are now totally behind the idea of rebuilding their country on their own, from the ground up, and not relying on some messianic leader like Perón to save them. This was their time, and they were going to learn from the mistakes of so-called globalization and do it right this time.

In one of the final confrontation scenes we see riot police lined up between the women of the Brukman factory and their building, trying to keep them from getting inside. They were firing teargas grenades at old women. They represented perfectly the unfairness of taking on the state and politicians, when they can wield the only force legally allowed to commit violence against the other side. But the workers used the court system and sound legal arguments to take control of their factories and restart the idle machinery.

Seeing the men of the movement interact with each other was another important part of the story that wasn't discussed explicitly but which really set the scene for the actions unfolding as they did. Characteristically emotional and open, as Latin-blooded men are known to be, they stood with each other, talked about their feelings and their fears with their families, weren't afraid to show vulnerability in front of their wives or kids, and, these unemployed factory workers looked to be the most enlightened examples of modern maleness one can find. Certainly a better example to follow than the Hollywood macho idiocy we get hammered with every day. One gets the impression that if the same situation of widespread economic shutdown were to happen in America or even Canada that the people wouldn't be as strong or resolved as these workers were, and would simply accept their fate and take their frustrations out on each other and their families.

But The Take was all about hopefulness, and the idea that there really is a better way, and a way where unfair distribution of wealth isn't seen as a goal of the system.

Link: The Take Official Movie Website.

By al - 11:15 PM | (2) comments | Post a Comment

Long Distance

Hi gang. Haven't been checking in lately cause I've been sick the last week or so. E-coli. Bad. That and it's long distance to connect to this shitty dial up line.

By TVT - 11:05 PM | (0) comments | Post a Comment

This isn't good..

ok, they're listening to Bush's speech in halifax in the next office.. he just mentioned PEI potatoes, I'm not comfortable with him knowing that PEI exists, there goes my plan if the end of the world happens to just blow up the bridge and hide out here

By al - 1:20 PM | (0) comments | Post a Comment

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