This is my personal thoughts, opinions and musings place. I will also rant about things, especially politically-correct things that irritate me. And sci-fi. Did I mention sci-fi? There'll be lots of sci-fi stuff here. And movies, too. Mmmmm... Movies

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

The Rolling Stones

You may be interested in knowing that the Rolling Stones are coming to Moncton, NB in September, and the show sold out in about a week's time, more than 60,000 tickets. The only way to get tickets now is to win them through radio station contests. I might have been interested in going, but at $99 + 25% service charge, it was a bit much.

It's about time!

Well, finally! The weather changed, it's sunny and warm and calm and very pretty. The trees seem like they're late blooming, but that could be just my imagination. Anyway, went for a drive and took some pictures. I was starting to get desperate, feeling like i wasn't going to ever get out again!

It's amazing how much better one feels when at least some of the trees are green!

Of Function Points, and the attendant reduction in developer performance

This is a belated continuation of my article on CMM.

One of the myths in the software development industry, especially large software development industry, is that standardized measurements of system size and complexity are possible across different development environments. One such system of measurement is called “Function Points”. Developed initially by IBM(I think!!), it has been adapted by quite a few large development houses, and if my experience with it is any indication, it is no more accurate there than it has been here.

To understand the problem, I suppose I should explain what Function Points are. Please note that I'm not an expert on FP, and merely relating what I have seen. FPs, at their simplest, attempt to measure the size and complexity of a given system. This is done by assigning points to specific types of functions that your software performs, then by adding an adjustment factor to the total, and presto! you have a number. How is all this done? Well, every data input and look-up screen is analyzed for functions performed, numbers of files/tables accessed, and number of fields on the screen that can be edited or are display-only. Every report produced and every batch process is also counted in a similar way.

So, the end-result of all this effort is a number. Let's say it's 14,000. “But what does it mean?” you ask. Surprisingly, it means absolutely nothing. Unlike, say, a voltage reading of 9 volts which is an absolute, a function point count of 14,000 means diddly, unless you compare it to something else, say a function point count of 9,000. So, given those two numbers, you can say that that the software that counted 14,000 FPs is larger and more complex than the software that counted 9,000, right? In the real world, you would be correct, but this isn't the real world, this is the world of bureaucracy.

The trouble is that these numbers can only really be compared between very similar systems. Let's say you wrote two systems. The first system consists almost entirely of data input and inquiry screens, and the second system consists almost entirely of batch processing and reporting functions. That first system with mostly input screens will result in a much larger number of function points than will a batch or a reporting system, because FP counting is is biased towards online, data-input systems. In the immortal words of Yoda the Jedi Master, “No, no, there is no why!” On top of all that, there're also different ways to count FPs, and they're not always compatible.

Now, you may be asking yourselves(always assuming you actually read this far), why is any of this a problem? It certainly makes sense for a development house to know how large and complex their systems are, so what's the issue? The issue isn't FPs themselves, or how they're counted, the issue is how they're used.

As with any initially good idea, once the bureaucrats get a hold of it, it all goes down hill. So, at the company I do work for, the big thing is FPs per developer. The higher the FPs the better, since the developer is producing more output over the same amount of time. This is where they get into trouble. Since online, screen-based systems produce far more functions, these kinds of developers tend to have a much easier time meeting their performance goals. The batch-based developers may be maintaining systems with hundreds of thousands of lines of code, they need to produce more and more to make up the difference in system methodologies.

It would be logical to assume that companies are aware of all this, that they'd make allowances for those developers not working in FP-rich environments, but the assumptions would be incorrect. Worse, developers feel they need to artificially raise their FP counts, so they create new functionality that, strictly speaking, isn't necessary for the business. Where one screen with expanded functionality would do just fine, they write two screens because that gives them more FPs. And that, of course, results in reduced developer efficiency and a more complex and unwieldly system to maintain.

Software development is a horribly complex and difficult process, so much so that few people realize just how complex and difficult. If done properly, however, it is also an extremely fun and exciting way to spend your working life. Few things are as gratifying as seeing your work being used by people. But these latest initiatives that many companies have undertaken, including CMM and FPs are destroying all the fun. Stay tuned for another article on the insanity of modern software development.

Monday, May 30, 2005

It's sad!

I've been watching the original Battlestar Galactica on DVD and I remembered how cute the little kid who played Boxey was. It is so sad that his character had to be subject to the horror that was Galactica: 1980! Sad, so sad.

The History of the Internet

Don't say I didn't warn you. Oh wait, that's right. I didn't. Never mind.

New blog on the list

Just added a new blog to the list, I wasn't always like this.... Check it out.

Sunday, May 29, 2005

Who's your favourite System Lord?

This is a Stargate: SG1 question. Who is your favourite System Lord? And why?

My favourite System Lord is Baal. There's something supremely evil about him, in a “Yeah, I know I'm evil, but I eschew ostentation” kind of way. He doesn't get a lot of screen time, but from what I've seen, he doesn't seem to go overboard with clothing, either, prefering a muted tunic and pants combo. I think he endeared himself to me the first time I saw him; it was the episode where he captured O'Neill, and their banter was forever engraved on my memory.

Baal: “You will suffer pain for your impudence.”
O'Neill: “I don't know the meaning of the word. Seriously, 'impudence', what does it mean?”
Baal: Just smirks, doesn't say anything, but throws a knife at O'Neill.


He also fails to perform theatrics like his master, Anubis. He doesn't beam a hologram through the stargate and then procede to gloat over the horrors he's about to inflict upon you. Played convincingly by Cliff Simon, he's one bad guy you love to hate.

Now, here's a follow-up question. Which System Lord would you want to screw into insensibility? For me, it's got to be Nirrti. There's just something about big-breasted women with the Goa'uld voice and blazing eyes. Yes, I'm a pervert, so what?

SG1 Quote

From Season Eight episode “The Reconing - Part 1”.

Baal: “This weapon will destroy all life in the galaxy.”
O'Neill: “Including you.”
Baal: ”Yes.”
O'Neill: “So why would you use it?”
Baal: “I wouldn't, but there is one who would.”
O'Neill: “Oh, don't tell me!”
Baal: (with a smirk) “Anubis.”
O'Neill: “I told you not to tell me.”

Who Knew?

Porno Warning!

WARNING!

“Sexual activities depicted
in this video/dvd may be
medically harmful. In
addition they are
NOT
necessarily healthy, safe,
or suggested.”

Trips down memory lane: Houston

Trips down memory lane are sometimes expensive, and your mileage will vary. For me, the memories of Houston, TX are pretty happy ones. I worked there in '97 and '98 and I absolutely loved it. The people, the work environment and the location itself were very good, and I loved the time I spent there.

The time I spent in Houston was a pretty happy one for me. There was a lot of money, I got along with the people, and I developed my penchant for photography there. One thing that I was completely unprepared for when I arrived in the city was the weather. Specifically, the rains.

On my way there, the rains started somewhere in Arkansas and didn't stop for more than a few hours here and there for three weeks. I had never seen such sheets of water falling out of the sky, and I was completely stunned by the floods. Before I left, I made a map of how to get to my destination. The map served me quite well through the whole 4 day trip, and became completely useless once I arrived in Houston itself. The day I drove in, the city was flooded, and the highways I planned on using were closed down. On a detour I had to take, I had to make another detour because the road passed under a bridge and had flooded out, and all you could see was the roof of a pickup truck submerged in all that.

I finally reached my destination and when I parked in the hotel, the rains shut off. Literally. As if somebody reached over and threw a switch, the water falling out of the sky simply stopped. Within 45 minutes, the water on the ground was gone as well, and the city came alive as if nothing had happened. That night it rained again and flooded everything once more, and once more the water collected on the ground had vanished.

In my first week in Houston, there was a city-wide flood that culminated in a lake forming over Hwy. 10, forcing those motorists caught in it to get out of their cars and climb on their roofs while news helicopters hovered overhead. That, too, quickly dissipated and the city returned to normal. It continued to flood like this throughout my entire stay in the city

One time we watched from the office window a lake forming on a highway offramp, flooding two bridge underpasses as well as the approaching roads. The same storm also blew every sewer cover in a sequence, one after another. It was something to behold. One of the more impressive floods happened the day I had to stay late in the office, and when I finally left and drive home, the water on the road was literally splashing over the hood of my car. How my engine failed to flood and stall passes my current understanding.

Between the tornadoes, the floods and the forest fire smoke from Mexico, it was an exciting stay.

The state parks in Texas are incredible, even though some of the signs in them are a bit odd. I came across one that said, “No cars with catalytic converters allowed to park here if the indicator is red”. That's because they don't want your car setting the dry grass on fire after an hour's drive to get there.

And the food! My God! The food! I still, to this day, remember crawfish etouffe, a dish I doubt I'll ever have again. It didn't help matters that there was a seafood restaurant across the street from my apartment, and that's where I ate at least three times a week; they actually knew me by name and would sometimes even make specific dishes for me that weren't available on that day to the general public. It's sad that I can't remember the name of that place, but it's been eight years.

The people, too, I got along with. They were friendly and easy to deal with. They also took a strange attitude towards gutter fights; instead of separating the combatants or calling the cops, they'd just stand around and cheer them on; sometimes they'd bet beer.

All in all, I enjoyed Houston. It was a fun city, with many different things to do, and very friendly people. Next time, a trip down memory lane to Boston, MA.

"Ooooh, so cuuute"

I don't know why, but I've always found the movie “Kung Pow: Enter the Fist” to be absolutely hilarious. Yes, yes, I know people hated it, but I've never card about any of that.

In any case, the movie was made by taking an old kung fu film, ripping out the entire soundtrack, including speech and digitally adding whole new characters and voices. The result is a spoof of kung fu films that beings with a dancing baby ala Ally McBeal. It then proceeds from silly(a baby rolls down hill and stops in front of a Chinese woman, who picks up the baby, kisses it, says “Ooooh, so cuuute...” and promptly drops it down the opposite hill) to cute (gopherchucks which are nanchucks made out of a bit of cloth and two gophers) to ridiculous(cow guardian).

Almost every scene is a parady of either culture or kung fu movies. Dialog is designed to be ridiculous.

Master: “You cannot train here.”
Chosen One: “Master, I beg you, please reconsider.”
Master: “Hmmm, OK.”

Master: “You must forgive Wimp Lo, he is an idiot. We purposely trained him wrong, as a joke.”

Wimp Lo: “I'm bleeding, making me the victor.”

Many have said it's a bad film, and they're probably right. But really, so what? It's still a funny movie, and the best part is, they're making a sequel!

For more quotes from the movie, see here.

The point of all this is that yes, the movie is stupid, but then, so are most kung fu films ever made. It's a spoof, a joke, and absolutely hilarious!

Friday, May 27, 2005

Of BlogClicker and unupdated blogs

As you surf BlogClicker to earn credits so other BlogClicker members can visit your blog, you often come across blogs that are either discontinued or haven't been updated in a long time. So here's the question: how do they continue to get hits? Where are they getting all the credits for others to spend on blog hits for themselves? There're really only two ways that I know of to get credits: earn them through browsing, or purchase them with actual money. I've always questioned why anybody would pay money to get hits on a personal blog that's not earning any kind of revenue, but that's just me.

So, where do they get the credits? Have they purchased them, or are they browsing BlogClicker? In either case, why bother if you're not updating your blog content, sometimes for months? I suppose I can understand doing either if you're actively writing new content, though I still don't quite accept spending real money on a personal blog, but at least you can justify it if you're blogging regularly.

Inquiring minds want to know...

Get Firefox!

Here's where I do my part to promote a great browser.

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Get Firefox!

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Star Wars Horoscope





Star Wars Horoscope for Aquarius




You can be cruel and torment people who disagree with you.
Deep down, there is a peace-loving, friendly side to you.
You have a knack for inflicting pain on people and use your intellect during battle.

Star wars character you are most like: Darth Vader

"Revenge of the Sith" reviews

http://www.beliefnet.com/story/167/story_16700_1.html

http://journals.aol.com/slapinions/Slap-Inionscom/entries/1672

Of modern technology, or why do we bother?

So my car died on the weekend, and of course, that sent me into a panic. True, the car is under an extended warranty, but at less than 120,000km, it wasn't a good sign. It turns out, however, that my panic attack was completely unwarranted(though kinda exciting), it was merely a dead battery.

Now, here's what my problem with all this is. With all the modern computer support they have surrounding the engine and codes that get stored whenever there's a problem, you'd think the car would realize the battery isn't charging anymore and actually warn me ahead of time. All it really had to do was light up the “Service Engine Soon” light, and I would've taken it in to be checked out. But, why oh why should the first indication of a problem be the fact that my remotes will no longer lock the doors, which was kinda weird 'cause they'd unlock successfully.

I owned a Chev Beretta, which had the most useless of status indicator displays, despite having a digital dash. The Olds Achieva was somewhat better, the codes could actually show something useful, and the Olds Intrigue has the most active status indicators: they light up at the merest suggestion of a problem, but they still can't detect a dying battery.

How's that for modern technology?

10 Ways to Destroy the Earth

Not for those easily-shocked!

That's just not funny

What is the point, I ask, of surfing around blogosphere, and wanting to comment on somebody's article only to receive the following in response? Seriously, folks, what's up wid dat? It's bad enough cycling through the 20-second delays on BlogClicker, trying to find the one gem out of a colossal mountain of sites that aren't even real blogs, only to be rewarded with something like this? I not only not know what his reasons were for sending me this crud, but I don't even care. And to add insult to injury, the damn thing sat there for a good 10 seconds before it insulted me. Is it too much to ask that if have to be insulting about these so-called “false positives” that you at least try to do it quickly?

It would appear that you are have been identified as a nasty comment spammer by Spam Karma and, as such, your comment has been deleted.

If you are only an innocent bystander in the War on Spam, please accept our apologies. The author of this blog will receive a digest containing your comment as well as the reasons why it was deleted. Try contacting him via email (there are many possible reasons: a very common one being the use of a proxy to access this blog).

Note: unless you know exactly why your comment has been deleted (contained a spam URL etc), do NOT try to repost your comment again. It would only result in your IP and website being banned permanently.

Check out: Spam Karma's Homepage for more information on this spam filter...

Bad Karma, man, bad karma...

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Why Men Are Happier Than Women

Men Are Just Happier People-- What do you expect from such simple creatures?

Note: I don't have the corresponding opposite, does anyone know where I can get it?


  1. Your last name stays put.
  2. The garage is all yours.
  3. Wedding plans take care of themselves.
  4. Chocolate is just another snack.
  5. You can be President.
  6. You can never be pregnant.
  7. You can wear a white T-shirt to a water park.
  8. You can wear NO shirt to a water park.
  9. Car mechanics tell you the truth.
  10. The world is your urinal.
  11. You never have to drive to another gas station restroom because this one is just too icky.
  12. You don't have to stop and think of which way to turn a nut on a bolt.
  13. Same work, more pay.
  14. Wrinkles add character.
  15. Wedding dress $5000. Tux rental-$100.
  16. People never stare at your chest when you're talking to them.
  17. New shoes don't cut, blister, or mangle your feet.
  18. One mood all the time.
  19. Phone conversations are over in 30 seconds flat.
  20. You know stuff about tanks.
  21. A five-day vacation requires only one suitcase.
  22. You can open all your own jars.
  23. You get extra credit for the slightest act of thoughtfulness.
  24. If someone forgets to invite you, he or she can still be your friend.
  25. Your underwear is $8.95 for a three-pack.
  26. Three pairs of shoes are more than enough.
  27. You almost never have strap problems in public.
  28. You are unable to see wrinkles in your clothes.
  29. Everything on your face stays its original color.
  30. The same hairstyle lasts for years, maybe decades.
  31. You only have to shave your face and neck.
  32. You can play with toys all your life.
  33. Your belly usually hides your big hips.
  34. One wallet and one pair of shoes one color for all seasons.
  35. You can wear shorts no matter how your legs look.
  36. You can "do" your nails with a pocket knife.
  37. You have freedom of choice concerning growing a mustache..
  38. You can do Christmas shopping for 25 relatives on December 24 in 25 minutes.
  39. No wonder men are happier.

Where's that from?

Can you guess? Are you addicted enough to silly entertainments? I'd like to see if you can solve this on your own, but I promise to leave a clue after some time has passed.

The countedown started,
Trouble brews,
But have no fear,
We cannot lose.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Of Star Wars, and the weakness of the side of good

In the Star Wars universe, two sides dominate the philosophical discourse: the light side and dark side. Both sides utilize the Force, which is either a mystical power that binds the universe together or merely a physical manifestation of the energy created by microscopic organisms, depending on which 3 episodes you're watching. The fact that both the dark and the light use the Force for their own ends makes it a basically amoral power. It'll confuse the mind of your opponent just as readily as it will crush his trachea, it doesn't seem to care.

The difference between the Jedi(adherents of the light side) and the Sith(adherents of the dark side) appears to be that the Jedi value stability and democracy above all else, which tends to bring peace, prosperity and stultifying stupidity, while the Sith value chaos but are not above personal rule, which also brings peace, but at the end of a gun. The Jedi also, apparently, have no personal relationships with others, while the Sith do whatever the hell they want. So, on the one hand you have passionless defenders of good, but on the other hand, you have impassioned promoters of “do whatever the hell you want” philosophy. Funny how these things work out.

The Jedi are also deathly afraid of anything to do with the dark side. Passion, anger, fear, hatred, all these lead to the dark side. They socialize this fear into all the new trainees, thereby leaving them completely vulnerable to the very thing they're afraid of. The theory goes that if you tell them about all the things the dark side adherents can do(force lightning is pretty cool), they'll be tempted by it. But isn't that why we're told parents should speak to their children early about drugs and tobacco and alcohol and all that? To have serious discussions about these topics, not just block off certain aspects of their worldview.

The Jedi are told to bury their feelings, but are feelings really what causes the conversion to the dark side? In “Return of the Jedi”, Luke gained orders of magnitude of power when he unleashed his rage against his father and literally chopped his right hand clean off, but he failed to join the dark side because he refused to take that one final act of depravity, he refused to kill his father who was no helpless before him. In “Revenge of the Sith”, Anakin chops off Dooku's hand, and then kills the now-unarmed(Ha ha! Let the hilarity ensue!) and defenseless man.

So what is it the Jedi are really afraid of? It can't be emotion, because emotion in and of itself is like the Force, it's amoral. What I think they're really afraid of is succumbing to their emotions and they will do because of them. And Kenobi got it wrong; Anakin wasn't seduced by the dark side of the Force, he was seduced by an adherent of the dark side who twisted Anakin's love for his wife and made him do twisted things for it.

All this might lead you to suspect that the Jedi Order is weaker than the Sith, but that's actually not true. As a whole, on level ground, they're a match for each other, but the Sith don't believe in fair fights and always try to change the odds in their own favour. Apart from this fear of the dark side, the Jedi Order's only other weakness is overweaning pride in themselves and the belief in their own superiority. This explains why they fell so easily to a bunch of clones.

But the Sith have their own problems. Unlike the Jedi, they're true masters of the Force because they use it to its fullest potential, but that possible advantage is greatly offset by their cackling insanity. It may even be a safety feature of the Force: gain too much power, and the Force literally drives you insane, causing you to do stupid things that hasten your own downfall. Palpatine certainly fell victim to that; so sure was he of his own power, that the notion that his protege, Darth Vader, would betray and destroy him to protect his son never even occured to him. This, despite the obvious fact that Vader had betrayed and destroyed the Jedi Order not thirty years before.

The strengths and weaknesses of both sides, the light and the dark, balance each other out in the end, and in the end, the differences are settled the old-fashioned way, with a sword.

P.S.: Has anybody noticed how much they like chopping people's arms off in these movies?

Bravery or Stupidity?

True bravery / stupidity is arriving home, stinking drunk, after a very late night out with the boys, being met at the door and assaulted with a broom by your wife . . . and still having the balls to ask: "Are you cleaning, or were you flying somewhere?"

Monday, May 23, 2005

My new photoblog

I'm starting a new photoblog on MSN Spaces, and winding down the existing one on Blogspot. Though there are storage limits on MSN, I find it easier to update it; I don't need external software to do it, which means any PC with IE can upload files. There's very little on there now, but I hope to grow it in the near future. Please give it a try.

My Personality Defect Type

Woo Hoo! Although I wouldn't put too much faith in such a thing, folks. It lists televangelists as being Gentle, and I've yet to see one who is.

Spiteful Loner
You are 71% Rational, 0% Extroverted, 71% Brutal, and 42% Arrogant.

You are the Spiteful Loner, the personality type that is most likely to
go on a shooting rampage. You are a rational person and tend to hold
emotions in very low-esteem; not only that, but you are also rather
introverted, meaning you probably bury any emotions you feel deep
inside yourself. Combine these traits with your hatred of others and
your brutality, and it seems that you would be quite likely to shoot
innocent people in a rampage. Not only that, but you are also a very
humble person--not a braggart at all--meaning you could possibly have
low-self esteem. This is only yet one more incentive to go on a
shooting rampage, because you wouldn't care if you died as a result.
Granted, you probably haven't gone on a shooting rampage and probably
never will, but all the motivations are there. In conclusion, your
personality is defective because you are too introverted, brutal,
insecure, and rather unemotional. No wonder no one hangs around you,
you morbid, cold-hearted freak!



To put it less negatively:

1. You are more RATIONAL than intuitive.

2. You are more INTROVERTED than extroverted.

3. You are more BRUTAL than gentle.

4. You are more HUMBLE than arrogant.


Compatibility:


Your exact opposite is the Televangelist.


Other personalities you would probably get along with are the Capitalist Pig, the Smartass, and the Sociopath.


*


*


If you scored near fifty percent for a certain trait (42%-58%), you
could very well go either way. For example, someone with 42%
Extroversion is slightly leaning towards being an introvert, but is
close enough to being an extrovert to be classified that way as well.
Below is a list of the other personality types so that you can
determine which other possible categories you may fill if you scored
near fifty percent for certain traits.


The other personality types:

The Emo Kid: Intuitive, Introverted, Gentle, Humble.

The Starving Artist: Intuitive, Introverted, Gentle, Arrogant.

The Bitch-Slap: Intuitive, Introverted, Brutal, Humble.

The Brute: Intuitive, Introverted, Brutal, Arrogant.

The Hippie: Intuitive, Extroverted, Gentle, Humble.

The Televangelist: Intuitive, Extroverted, Gentle, Arrogant.

The Schoolyard Bully: Intuitive, Extroverted, Brutal, Humble.

The Class Clown: Intuitive, Extroverted, Brutal, Arrogant.

The Robot: Rational, Introverted, Gentle, Humble.

The Haughty Intellectual: Rational, Introverted, Gentle, Arrogant.

The Spiteful Loner: Rational, Introverted, Brutal, Humble.

The Sociopath: Rational, Introverted, Brutal, Arrogant.

The Hand-Raiser: Rational, Extroverted, Gentle, Humble.

The Braggart: Rational, Extroverted, Gentle, Arrogant.

The Capitalist Pig: Rational, Extroverted, Brutal, Humble.

The Smartass: Rational, Extroverted, Brutal, Arrogant.




My test tracked 4 variables How you compared to other people your age and gender:
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 44% on Rationality
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 0% on Extroversion
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 89% on Brutality
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 42% on Arrogance
Link: The Personality Defect Test written by saint_gasoline on Ok Cupid

Sunday, May 22, 2005

"I sense a plot to destroy the Jedi!" No shit, Sherlock!

Those Sith Lords are pretty damn good at what they do, aren't they? Misdirection, plotting revenge and savouring it as the plans move into action, they're at the top of their form. So, plus 10 points for killing 3 Jedi in a blink of an eye, minus 10 thousand for cackling during battle.

What can one say about the Jedi, however? “I sense a plot to destroy the Jedi!” No shit, Sherlock! It took you 3 episodes to figure that out? You've got a wolf in the midst of all your sheep, and you sleep right through it. One of your own begins to turn to the Dark Side, and you don't even notice. In fact, you do everything possible to accelerate the transformation. From what this episode says, it's the Jedi's fault Anakin turned in the first place. It's one thing for normal people to not notice they've got a traitor(and an evil traitor, to boot) amongst them, but normal people don't claim the ability to sense othere people's thoughts, nor do they claim all that training and supposed Master-level experience.

The movie looked great, though. It's a wonder of modern technology. Of course, no F/X-laden movie would be complete without a few computer graphic errors, but I'll leave those for you to find. The light-saber fight sequences were more modern, too, more John Woo style, with much flying about. Of course, these people have the Force, so I guess it's understandable they'd use ever advantage. There were, thankfully, no Matrix-style fights.

There was one moment, at the end of the movie, with Darth Vader, that almost made the whole thing jump the shark for me. It was, in the words of a friend of mine, a Frankenstein moment. He just had the Vader suit put on him and activated, and as his Master approaches and asks if he can hear him, the first thing Vader asks is how Padme is and whether she's alright. Palpatine tells him she's dead, that in his rage he killed her. Vader can't believe it, the last he saw her she was still alive, despite having just been Force Choked(tm) by him. A touching moment, to be sure; even in his new persona as Darth Vader, Anakin is still worried about the woman he loves. And then comes the almost-jump-the-shark part. He rips his metal restraints right off the metal table and walks off it, then arches his back and raises his arms in the air and yells, “Nooooooooooo........” They could've avoided this part and done it some other way, but I guess they needed some comic relief.

All in all, an A+ for effort, a B- for the final result.

Series finale, Andromeda

Well, goodbye, Andromeda, we hardly knew ye. It certainly has been a fun ride, though the final episode left much to be desired. Don't get me wrong, it certainly was one hell of a lot better than the series finale for Enterprise, but it left more questions open than it answered.

  1. Why was Maura destroyed by going back to Seefra/Tarn Vedra, but not the other way?
  2. What happened to the Commonwealth at the end there?
  3. What happened to the Nietzcheans?
  4. What happened to all the agents of the Abyss?
  5. What happened to the council of solar avatars?
  6. In truth, what the hell happened?
This is just like the ending of Voyager, wham bam thank you ma'am. Is it too much to ask for one final follow-up episode, just to clear up all the tail-end confusion? It's one thing to end a show like Star Trek: TNG that way, it wasn't soapy at all. But Andromeda, which had just one basic theme running throughout the whole show needs a follow-up. Just one, at most two episodes.

Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed the episode, but it left a taste of incompleteness in my mouth, if you get my meaning.

Oh, well. On to other new sci-fi shows. Oh, wait. That's right: there aren't any. Damn!

Lake disappears, America at fault

You know, I always suspected something wasn't quite right with my former countrymen, and now I have proof. Check out the last paragraph.

Saturday, May 21, 2005

The ugliness of modern computers

When I first got my Creative Nomad Jukebox, it failed to come with a USB cable to hook it up to the computer, so I was obliged to go out and buy one. Unfortunately, the store was out of regular cables, and I had to buy one of those fancy artsy fartsy glowing ones. You plug it in to your computer, and both ends of the cable light up. Unfortunately, that's all it does.

So, it occured to me that modern computers are really ugly. All they do is sit there and work on the inside, but the cases themselves are pretty useless. When I first learnt computers, it was in high school on an IBM 1130 mainframe. Ah, those were the days. It actually had a display console. Not a screen, mind you, a console. Accumulators, stacks, program pointers, these were all displayed upon a Star Trek-like panel of blinking lights. Of course, in those days computers were weak and primitive enough that you could actually display that sort of information and have it make sense.

Which brings me to the HP and Data General. Apart from PCs, the HP and Data General mini-computers are the only computers I have actually ever seen. All others I've worked on, Sun Solaris, IBM MVS and AS400, these I've always accessed remotely and never actually laid eyes on. But HP3000 and DG Eclipse machines I've physically seen and worked with. And let me tell you, there is something... exciting... about non-CRT based status indicators.

On the HP3000, there was a horizontal performance LED bar. It would measure performance like this:

O
-O-
--O--
---O---
----O----
-----O-----
------O------
And so on

The wider the bar would light up, the busier the system was. I'm generalizing here, of course, but you get my drift. You had visual confirmation of what the system was doing. If the system would crash, you could see that, too. Though, it's been often said that the only way to crash a properly configured HP3000 was to detonate a tactical nuclear device overhead. That, too, is a generalization, but they were rock-solid machines.

The DG Eclipse was a little different. While the computer itself didn't have status indicators, the hard drives normally shipping for those machines did. Now, the drives were special. They were only about 600 megabytes or so, and they cost about $25,000 Canadian, so I guess it's only fitting they had something on them. They were also ridiculously fast, so much so that when were forced to get a SCSI drive at one point, we were shocked by how slow SCSI drives were by comparison. This'll come as a great shock to PC users who thought SCSI drives were fast. In any case, the hard drive had cylinder indicators on them, which is to say they would show what cylinder the drive heads were positioned on at any given moment. If the cylinder indicator ever stopped moving, your system had crashed, and that used to happen on a relatively regular basis, though not necessarily due to a system fault.

Which brings me to modern machines. What, exactly, do they have on them? Nothing, that's what. A big fat zero! And it's a shame, because a visiual indication of system activity is very stimulating. A display screen is fine and dandy, but sometimes simplicity is king!

How cold is it?

It is so cold in my computer room right now, my mouse scroll wheel is actually seizing up.

Today is a sad day

Today is the day that the last episode ever of Andromeda airs. I'm very sad. It has been a great show, with much in the way of unique concepts I hadn't seen in any other sci-fi show. Rest in peace, Andromeda, and may you spawn a tangential show, or five.

"Me, me, take a picture of me!"

I was at Pizza Hut the other day, watching people. Oh, and eating, of course. To the left of me were a husband and wife and their very pregnant daughter. I don't actually know she was their daughter, she might have been a daughter-in-law. She was pretty young, too, relatively speaking, and for a while I thought it might have been one of those teenage pregnancy thingies, but then I saw a ring on her hand, so it might not have been. Of course, as a single man, I can't tell one kind of ring from another, so I could be wrong there.

At a table further away, sat a family out for what looked like a birthday celebration. Father, two kids(a boy and a girl), and one set of grandparents. The kids were pretty well behaved, actually, but the little girl had a problem. She absolutely hated to have a picture taken of somebody other than her. She would actually pout and tears would start forming in her eyes as she watched her father take a picture of her brother. And then, oh happy day!, he would turn that camera on her and all else would be forgotten. She'd swarm into her grandmother's arms and then pose with an abandon only kids can muster.

Then she'd demand to see the pictures, and her father would say, “It's not a digital camera, honey,” and she'd be all dissapointed again. Then her stomach would remind her that she was still hungry, and she'd forget about the pictures. But I'm sure that she was going to be counting the years(days in adult time) until the pictures would get developed and printed.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Of original thinking, and the end of the world

When I was a wee lad, scarcely knee-high, I had to do a class presentation on a topic assigned by the teacher. Well, alright, that was a bit of an exxageration, I wasn't quite so short, but I still had to do that presentation. Every kid in the class got a topic assigned to them, and we had no choice in the matter. My topic happened to be “Is there too much violence on TV?”. Now, the thing you have to understand is that I've only been in Canada by that time for only a few years, and my English wasn't the best. I also wasn't used to watching so much TV that I'd have an actual opinion on this subject, but there it was. I had fifteen minutes to prepare, and then I'd have to get up in front of the class.

I struggled with it in the hall. That's how we had to do it. While the class waited, we had to go out into the hall and come up with a speech. I realized right off the bat that I simply didn't know enough about Canadian(or, as it happens, American) TV and so I couldn't think of very much to say. But then it occured to me that while I didn't enough about Canadian TV in general, I did know about certain specific shows. In particular, I wa absolutely fascinated with the then-current, hour-long sitcom known as The A-Team. Yes, yes, I know it wasn't a sitcom, but it sure was funny. As an aside, they seem to be remaking The A-Team.

For those that don't know the show, it's about 4 US Army veterans who after being imprisoned for a crime they didn't commit, escape and become mercenaries, mostly helping people who need help, all the while running from the military police.

The funy thing about this show was that, despite all the ammunition being expended every week, nobody ever actually got hit, or at least I hadn't seen any by the time of my speech. And so, I made my presentation about how I didn't think there was enough violence on TV, and I used The A-Team as an example. “Look at that show,” I said, “that's not violence, that's a joke.”

I got an A for original thinking. I suspect, however, that in today's world, a kid making a speech like that on that particular topic would get an F for disagreeing with the prevailing wisdom, and more importantly, for disagreeing with the teacher's bias.

Which brings me to global warming, and the Kyoto Agreement that's going to cost Canada billions to implement.

According to the weather service, the 14-day trend is forecasting temperatures between 3 and 10 degrees Celcius below seasonal norm. Last year's summer was one of the coldest on record, and New Brunswick lost millions of dollars in tourism revenue because people didn't want to travel anywhere. Today there are people outside wearing light parkas with hoods, many are wearing hats, and I saw a few with gloves on.

My original thinking which called bullshit! on too much violence on TV is also calling bullshit! on global warming. Kyoto is costing Canada billions, yet the end result is that in fifty years, it's supposed to lower global temps by about half a degree. Wow! That's a truly impressive accomplishment. Funny thing is that emerging economies with billions of people(China and India, for example), are exempt and don't have to worry about it. With most of the low-end manufacturing already there, and with a lot of mid- and high-end manufacturing moving there, do we really need to give them a bigger stick to beat us over the head with?

It's all nonsense anyway. The polar caps always fluctuate, and the temperature always shifts. There've been famines due to excessive temperatures before, that's nothing new. There've been cold periods, warm periods, normal periods, it goes up and down. The last ice age didn't start because of human high-tech activities, and it certainly didn't end because of us. The same people who're telling us the planet itself is alive(Gaia) are the ones telling us it's also a static object that never changes, or if it does, it's only because we are responsible.

Ice Age, The Day After Tomorrow, The Core, these are just a few of the movies in recent years showcasing the “man-bad, nature-good” idea. Don't believe a word of it. We're told that we're the only ones that live above our means, that all other animals live with nature, not against it. Right. They don't tell us that we're also the only ones who've stepped on the moon, who've photographed distant planets and have the ability to communicate ideas more complex than lice-picking, and instanteneously across the planet, to boot. They also don't tell us that we're the only ones aware of more than our immediate surroundings and that many of us have progressed beyond mere existence into actual living.

We think and communicate with each other about our origins, our past and present, and our future. We don't, as a matter of course, eat our young or the males after mating(though divorce comes close to that). We have dreams and aspirations and feel a wide variety of emotions. We get bored and then dream up entertainments for ourselves, which we then go out and manufacture them. We create tools to simplify our jobs, and we take pleasure in a job well done. We live with feelings and emotions, we don't exist on instinct(though that doesn't appear to be true for everyone). We bring suffering and death to our fellow Man for the most idiotic of reasons. We are large, we contain multitudes.

If seals aren't culled, the white bear population explodes, and then promptly dies out when resources run out. So much for living with nature. Plant and animal life has gone extint before, and Man wasn't responsible. Automatically blaming human activity for whatever pet cause you've got is both silly, and in my opinion, counter-productive.

Woo hoo! My name in print!

Or at least in glowing phosphors!

http://www.livejournal.com/users/lukerson59/74596.html

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Of cute little album thumbnails

I discovered something interesting today. After ripping a bunch of my CDs so I can listen to them on my MP3 player, I realized that if you play the resulting files with Windows Media Player, it will actually try to find and download a picture of the CD album itself and place it in the directory where that album is stored. It's not always successful, of course, but in general, it seems to work quite well. For people who keep their music on their hard drives, I guess it's a benefit. For me, it's just a nifty trick, though an essentially meaningless one.

Baseball in Heaven

Two ninety year old men, Moe and Sam, have been friends all their lives. Sam is dying, and Moe comes to visit him every day.

"Sam," says Moe, "We have both loved baseball all our lives, and played minor league ball together for so many years. You have to do me one favor. When you get to Heaven, somehow you've got to let me know if there's baseball in Heaven."

Sam looks up at Moe from his death bed, and says, "Moe, if it is at all possible, I'll do it for you."

Shortly after that, Sam passes on. At midnight a couple of nights later, Moe is awakened by a blinding flash of white light and a voice calling "Moe.... Moe...."

"Who is it?" says Moe sitting up suddenly. "Who is it?"

"Moe, it's me, Sam."

"Come on. You're not Sam. Sam just died."

"I'm telling you," insists the voice. "It's me, Sam!"

"Sam? Where are you?"

"I'm in heaven," says Sam, "and I've got really good news and a little bad news."

"So, tell me the good news first," says Moe.

"The good news," says Sam "is that there is baseball in heaven. Better yet, all our old buddies who've gone before us are here, and we're all young men again. It's always spring time and it never rains or snows. And best of all, we can play baseball all we want, and we never get tired!"

"Really?" says Moe, "That is fantastic, wonderful beyond my wildest dreams! But, what's the bad news?"

"You're pitching next Tuesday!"

For writers only!

If you're a writer, check this out. I just thought it was cute.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Let the madness begin!

Darth Tater

Thanks be to my buddy who posted this link in a comment!

How to hypnotize a man

Men are so... visual!

The tale of six shoes

I noticed, about eight months ago, that my regular shoes were beginning to give up the ghost. Whenever I walked, they would squeak and wheeze like a poodle with asthma. Eight months later, which is to say sometime last week, I decided that enough was enough and that I needed new shoes; obviously, I'm not a dictator's wife. So like the naive, single man that I am, I went in search of shoes. How difficult could it be? Granted, finding shoes that fit me has always been a problem for me; I've got weirdly-sized feet, but they go very nicely with my weirdly-sized ego. But I digress.

I have to be honest here and admit that I'm not a great shoe buyer, or even a good shopper in general. I don't derive orgasmic pleasure from handling tons of merchandise and selecting that one perfect... something, whatever it is. I also don't like to drive around in search of bargains; I believe that any value you gain from buying something for ten dollars less at another store is more than counteracted by the extra time invested and the fifteen dollars I have to spend on extra gas. So, before I head out to look for something, I make a decision of where I am going to be getting it and I stick to those choices unless something extreme happens or I receive some stupedous and unquestionable information about another store.

So, I decided on Walmart. It has good prices on shoes, and the few times I've walked through Walmart shoe departments, I've been impressed by the product lines they carry. It's also centrally located and easy to get to. You might wonder, why living in Canada, I would discount Zellers'. The answer is simple: their shoe selection is terrible. Mostly workshoes and cheap uncomfortable crap. I don't need workshoes and I already have much uncomfortable crap. On the other hand, their shirt selection is really good, while I can't buy shirts at Walmart to save my life. Go figure. Other stores were out, too, because I usually consider them to be too expensive. So, Walmart it was.

Once in the Walmart shoe department, I noticed something weird. A large portion of the merchandise was moccassins, which I can't wear. Physically can't, not emotionally won't. Another portion was workshoes. I don't need steel toes, so that right out. And the remaining portion of shoes was pretty much mostly white. Whose bright idea was this? Why would I want pure white shoes for the outside? I go in the woods in them, and they'll be grey and brown in no time flat. Also, they had no real walking shoes; mostly office wear and the like. The treads would you no traction on loose soil and gravel, so they were out for offroad use.

And then I spied with my little eye a beauty of a shoe. It was brown, it looked comfy, it had great treads, and the shoe lace holes didn't look like they would rip the shoe laces apart in two months flat. Don't laugh; that's what happened to the last pair of shoes I bought from Zellers'. I picked it up and turned it over my hand. It was nice and soft, and looked like it would offer great support for the legs, especially on one of my walking expeditions into the wilds. It was time to try a pair on.

So I started looking for a size 10, and lo and behold! Nothing! Nada! Zip! Zero! Zilch! Netu! Sizes 7 and 8 aplenty, likewise with 13. 13? Did they really need 5 boxes of size 13? I looked for the shoe in the other sections where they kept the stock. Again, nothing. I called the floor walker over, he looked in the exact same places I did and pronounced his verdict: all they have is what's out on the floor, sorry please come again later.

So, what's a man who believed the Walmart propaganda about how great their purchasing is to do? Well, he goes to the other Walmart in town. He goes there with great expectations, thinking that the stocking problems of one store should by no stretch of the imagination reflect upon the entire corporation. And what does he find at the end of the journey? He finds the exact same shoe he liked in the first Walmart to only be available in sizes 7, 8, 12 and 13 in the other store. And no, all we have available is what's on the shelves, thank you, please come again.

Truly, now I felt corroded and defeated by failure and envy and hate. Failure over my inability to get a good pair shoes. Envy for all those bastards walking around, showing off their shiny new footwear. And hate for purchasing departments at Walmart for not stocking the one shoe type that was actually selling, while stocking hundreds of boxes of shoes that obviously nobody wanted to buy.

Dejected, I left the store, my hate following me like a cloud of evil. I punished myself that night with a gourmet dinner at McDonalds. The cloud that followed me after that was still evil, though of a different kind.

So. To recap, my attempt at buying new shoes was rebuffed by two, not one, Walmarts on the same day. This left me dejected and not a little bit gassy. But I digress.

A few days after this horror, I decided to drop by The Bay. For those that don't know, The Bay is Canada's oldest corporation, incorporated sometime in the 1600s, where it spent most of its time trapping and drinking. It also owns Zellers', which is its most profitable division.

On my way to The Bay, I stopped at a shoe store in the mall. Dear Middle-of-the-road-Deity, why oh why would I want to pay $275.00 for a pair of shoes made in China? Once at The Bay, I found a great pair of shoes that turned out to be the most comfortable pair I've ever owned in my life, and for only forty five dollars. I changed into them as soon as I got to work(bought them at lunch), and all I can say is that if you could have sex with your feet(fetishes don't count), these shoes would be almost better than foot sex.

And so, an important lesson learned. If life throws a curveball at you, remember that even if it hits you straight between the eyes, it doesn't mean that tomorrow it won't bathe your feet in unearthly delights.

Lightsabre technical specifications

How does a lightsabre work?

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Great moments in the Stargate universe

O'Neil throws a knife that penetrates a Goa'uld's shield and lodges itself in his hand. The evil dude makes some vague threats and promptly rings himself out. Carter runs up to him, saying, “That was good, sir. You realized the knife's low kinetic energy would allow it to pass through the shield.” O'Neil looks at her kinda weird for a moment, then replies, “Yeah, something like that.”

Gotta love that show!

M&M commercials explained!

If you've ever wondered about the color-coded M&M commercial are all about, this should take care of you.

Yet more Andromeda quotes

Andromeda: “You know what I really want?”
Tyr: “An avatar unencumbered by cleavage?”
Andromeda: “No, a real crew. I used to have eight hundred lancers stationed on me.”

Beka: “You'll never guess who I just met!”
Trance: “A scary, futuristic version of you? She went that way.”

What is your worldview?

You scored as Cultural Creative. Cultural Creatives are probably the newest group to enter this realm. You are a modern thinker who tends to shy away from organized religion but still feels as if there is something greater than ourselves. You are very spiritual, even if you are not religious. Life has a meaning outside of the rational.

Cultural Creative


63%

Idealist


56%

Existentialist


50%

Materialist


31%

Romanticist


31%

Postmodernist


25%

Modernist


25%

Fundamentalist


19%

What is Your World View? (corrected...hopefully)
created with QuizFarm.com

Monday, May 16, 2005

Great lines from the days gone by

“Who made you do that? Was it... Satan?”

Are you old enough to remember that?

Of large vehicles, or why can't you people learn to park?

So I've been thinking: why is that people driving large vehicles can't park them? Large trucks taking up 4 spots where they only need to take up two(if that), vehicles parked at an angle that makes them impossible to drive around, parking so close to other vehicles that their drivers can't get into the driver's seat? The monstrosities are so huge you need navigational hazard beacons placed around them in parking lots. How difficult is it really to straighten out a large vehicle? Why must they park at an angle?

When I drive into a parking lot, the first thing I do is look at the parking space layout and park accordingly. Why do you people always insist on taking up more than your fair share of the lot? Yes, I know you drive a large vehicle, but no one foisted one on you, you chose one all by yourself. If you can't park it, you shouldn't drive it.

Another great Andromeda quote

Dylan Hunt: “How long has the Vedran been here?”
Ranger: “Since the fall.”
Dylan: “The Fall of the Commonwealth?”
Ranger: “No, since the season, autumn.”

Of controlling freaks, or Oh My God!

I discovered something nasty and otherworldly about myself in the last couple of weeks: I'm a controlling freak.

The realization didn't come easy for me. I consulted numerous religious texts and have spoken with countless self-help gurus and other such snake-oil salesmen. They all agreed, virtually without exception that I am, in fact, a Controlling Freakth. It wasn't easy for me to accept this bit of knowledge, and now that I have, I'm not entirely sure my life will be any better. Is coming out of the control-freak closet the same as coming out of the alcholic closet? If you admit you have a problem, does it make it easier to solve it? I don't know. The religious texts had nothing to say on the subject other than to claim there's a 43% chance I'm going to hell, and self-help snake-oil salesmen all agree I need their product to improve myself; they don't agree on exactly which product I need.

So, where to begin? How did I come up with this piece of self-flaggelation of the soul? Well, it was a couple of incidents that proved it me, incidents that were pretty much identical which is how I notice them. In transitioning my work to another country, I caught myself demanding that they do things exactly the same I do them. If I start something, I check its status on a regular basis until it succeeds or fails. If something I start receives an error message, I investigate it myself. After a few of these incidents, I said to myself, “Self, you're a controlling freak! Stop it!” It's hard, though.

One can lead people to a job, but one can't make them work it. That's the unfortunate part of all of this. I'm getting help; I figure a dozen or so lap-dances should be able to cure me of this obsession with control. And if not, I can always have a freak-out.

I want this for my laptop

How's this for a battery? I could certainly live that, never worrying about recharging batteries, true wireless world, here we come!

Sunday, May 15, 2005

It is finally clear to me

If there was ever any doubt before, there is none now, why the show, Star Trek: Enterprise, failed after so few years. Even for the series finale, they couldn't come with anything better than a TNG/Enterprise combination, as seen through a holodeck representation aboard the Enterprise-D. What made it even worse was the fact that, though it takes place ten years from the previous Enterprise episode, but for the TNG characters it's the time they went chasing after a Federation-designed cloaking device, the characters on Enterprise look pretty much the same as they always did(apart from some minor hairdo modification for the females), while the TNG characters looked about ten years older, which how long it's been since TNG ended.

And then, to top it all off and add injury to insult, they didn't even bother to write and act out the speech that Archer supposedly gives that gets the whole Federation thing going. They faded to black just as he was about to speak. How lame is that?

Good riddance, I say, and a bad sess on both their houses.

Wheelchair users beware!

Caught these pics at a beach in New Brunswick. I must admit, however, that the beaches aren't yet open to the public.


So here you have an invitation to take a wheelchair ramp to get to the beach Posted by Hello


And here is what you find at the end of it - looks like a trap, don't it? Posted by Hello

Of Blogger, and the breaking of the chain

Personally, I'm of the opinion that if you don't allow the Blogger bar to be displayed on your Blogspot blog, Blogger shouldn't choose your blog when someone clicks the Next Blog button. If I'm gonig to all the effort of surfing, why should I be interrupted if you're not willing to be helpful?

Saturday, May 14, 2005

A special message to two truckers

This is a special, from the heart message to two truckers, one of whom was carrying nazi-mobiles, driving on Hwy 1 East, approaching Elgin: “A big, fat, fuck you!”

You two were playing leap-frog with each other, blocking traffic behind you, and you were doing it not only below normal traffic speed, but also below the posted speed limit. Which part of you need to drive faster than the guy you're trying pass have you failed to grasp after all these years of driving? What is it about keeping to the right lane other than to pass did you not understand? Were you even trying to pass that guy?

In the future, smarten up.

Friday, May 13, 2005

How sinful are you?













Your Deadly Sins



Gluttony: 80%

Sloth: 60%

Greed: 40%

Lust: 40%

Wrath: 40%

Envy: 20%

Pride: 20%

Chance You'll Go to Hell: 43%

You'll die from a diabetic coma.

Look at me, momma, I'm making some noise!

I've posted about this before, but it's a subject with a never-ending stream of new material. This is for you knuckle-draggers with ridiculously loud cars and motorcycles. Didn't your momma love you enough when you were little, and didn't she give you enough attention? Why inflict your hobbies on the rest of us?

If your vehicle wakes people up on the 4th floor with the windows closed, it's too loud. If you need to rev it for 15 minutes every morning, and it still stalls when you back out, it has a problem: get it fixed. A vibration emanating from your engine that can be felt while in bed on the 4th floor is a sign of something seriously wrong: get it checked out and fixed. Pulling out of a parking lot, throwing the throttle open to full power for a 20 meter dash to a side street at 3 o'clock in the morning is a sign of stupidity: women are not impressed, they think you're a moron.

If you want a loud car, fine. But on a race-track, if you please. Don't wake the whole neighbourhood merely because your momma didn't give you the attention you think you deserved.

Updated: 5:25pm
It occured to me that I wasn't as clear as I might have been as to target of this rant. I wasn't talking about those with cars and motorcycles not working properly, I'm talking about those who make their cars and motorcycles sound like this on purpose. Sorry about any confusion.

They're funny little megalomaniacs

One of the best expressions of male desire I've ever seen came from Andromeda. When asked what he wants, a Nietzchean replied: “The usual: Hundreds of grandchildren, utter domination of known space, and the pleasure of hearing that all my enemies have died in terrible, highly improbable accidents that cannot be connected to me.”

If that isn't the ultimate definition of family and security, I don't know what is.

After all these years...

I can understand, the 40s and 50s, using Caucasians with really bad fake moustaches and some makeup to represent Chinese. I suppose a lack of Chinese actors and maybe even good old fashioned racism played a role in that sort of thing. But in this day and age, to use actors who can barely pronounce the word 'Russian', let alone actually schpreken de lingo play Russians who have to speak in Russian during the show is absurd.

The case in point was yesterday, during the season 8 episode of Stargate: SG1 where the Goa'uld almost cause a nuclear war between Russia, China and the US. Dear Middle-of-the-road-Deity, could they not find any actors who at least looked Russian and was maybe even able to speak convincingly? It was bad, pathetically embarrasing even. It was also a bit incongruous.

At one point, Daniel Jackson meets a Russian woman who isn't speaking Russian particularly well, but acting like she is. He complements her on her English and she asks him how his Russian is. He replies, in Russian, that he can get by(he is actually understandable without the sub-titles), but she shudders and says, “OK, we'll stick with English”. The funny thing about that exchange was that his Russian as an American was actually better than her Russian as a Russian.

I found the whole exchange quite humourous. Sometimes script writers make their characters do things that are not consistent with what we know about them. Daniel Jackson, the cunning linguist who figured out how to speak with and understand the natives on Abidos, can barely speak Russian?

In any case, it was a good episode, which culminated in former Senator/Vice President Kinsey getting hisself blowed up real good. He was an annoying character that you loved to hate, played incredibly well by Ronny Cox. Hopefully he's gone for good, but with Goa'ulded bad guys on SG1 you can never be sure: they have a nasty habit of not staying dead.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Ships on Andromeda

Just out of curiousity, I compiled the following list of ship names used on the show, Andromeda:

  • Andromeda Ascendant
  • Eureka Maru
  • Renewed Valour
  • Starry Wisdom
  • Pax Magellanic
  • Consensus of Parts
  • The Unshattered Allegiance
  • Ekatrina
  • Balance of Judgment
  • Clarion's Call
  • Wrath of Achilles
  • Million Voices
  • Clarion's Call
  • Crimson Sunrise
  • Deep Midnight's Voice
  • Resolution of Hector
  • Lancer's Hope

Actually, I did it by reading the Eldorado Drift website. Thanks be to them.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

The cost of printing pictures

With the explosion of inexpensive, though relatively high-quality, digital cameras into the mass market has opened a world of photography for more people than they ever thought possible. Now, you really could take as many pictures as you wanted, and it would cost you anything until you decided to print them, and now you can pick-and-choose which shots you print. As well, the huge gains in personal computing power, coupled with marked improvements to digital image handling algorithms in modern photo editing applicationsm led to wild claims of “personal digital darkrooms”, combinations of hardware, software and architecture where one can do all sorts of arcane editing of their pictures, editing that was previously reserved to professional chemical-based darkroom operators. People therefore invested thousands of dollars into new computer and photographic hardware, new software and new printing equipment.

As far as they went, these claims were perhaps justified. It was now possible for ordinary people to create special effects on their pictures, to frame them, to color-balance them, to print them, and to do everything else that only professional color labs were able to do just ten years ago. The trouble was that the professional color labs weren't professional because they utilized professional equipment; they were professional because they employed professionals, and they generally worked on images shot by professionals. It takes more than using the Adobe Photoshop's “Adjust all levels” command or PaintShopPro 9's “One-step photo adjustment” command to make great pictures.

One of the problem the personal digital darkroom faces is that most people know very little about computers and digital images. More importantly, most people know very little about photography in general or even how their cameras work. One of the idiotic things that salespeople tell customers is not to worry about taking great pictures, because their computers will able to fix them right up. Except that it's not true; computers can't create new data, they can only adjust what's available to them. Pictures should be good or excellent at the camera, because then they can easily be edited. If you picture is badly over-exposed and blury, no amount of computer processing will help it. And so, many people are disappointed in their pictures, despite spending countless thousands of dollars. Though, today, computer hardware and software, camera equipment and printing equipment is much cheaper than it used to be, so it's as big a problem as it used to be.

Another huge problem for the personal digital darkroom is the ridiculous cost of printing. True enough, you can buy a printer for $74.99, but replacement cartridges will cost you over a hundred. Yes, you can use third-party inks, sometimes, but not if you're doing serious printing that requires inks color-matched to what the printer drivers expect. As well, some printers use a single cartridge for the 3 colors(Cyan, Yellow, and Magenta) plus a second cartridge for Black. What most people don't realize is that colors aren't used at the same rate. One picture will use a lot of Yellow and not much Cyan or Magenta, but another one will use more Magenta than Cyan or Yellow. It all depends on what's in the picture. This means that printers that use only a single cartridge for all three colors will be very wasteful, because if one color runs out, the whole cartridge has to be thrown out.

Some printers, like my trusty old Canon S600, seem very efficient in their ink usage, and they use very large tanks, relatively speaking. The printer, like most modern Canons, uses four cartridge, one for each of black, cyan, yellow and magenta. Any of the colors runs out, and I can keep using the others until they run out also. My new Epson R200 printer is a different matter, however. It uses six cartridges instead of four, black, cyan, yellow, magenta plus photo-magenta and photo-cyan. The color cartridges are smaller than the color cartridges on the S600, and the black cartridges is a lot smaller. Prices for individual cartridges are about the same, though. The thing about the Epson is that it burns through 6 smaller(thought equally-expensive) cartridges about twice as fast as the S600. This explains why I recently(read, yesterday) resurected the S600 and will now use it to print everything except real high-quality photographs on photo-paper.

Speaking of photo-paper, people aren't usually told in the beginning how expensive inkjet photo-paper is. Prices vary between different(don't let Epson convince you that you can't use Kodak or Canon paper on their printers and with their inks), but they're all still pretty high. This ads to the overall cost per page.

The bottom line is that for most consumers, digital photography means getting snapshots to send through email to family and friends. If they want to print their work, it's time-consuming, difficult, requires a lot of learning, and is pretty expensive. Is it as expensive as buying, developing and printing a roll of 36-frame 35mm film? Probably not, especially for the most expensive films. But it's not cheap, nor is it without a certain investment in time.

25 Signs You Have Grown Up!

25 SIGNS YOU HAVE GROWN UP!!!

1. Your houseplants are alive, and you can't smoke any of them.
2. Having sex in a twin bed is out of the question.
3. You keep more food than beer in the fridge.
4. 6:00 AM is when you get up, not when you go to bed.
5. You hear your favorite song in an elevator.
6. You watch the Weather Channel.
7. Your friends marry and divorce instead of "hook up" and "break up."
8. You go from 130 days of vacation time to 14.
9. Jeans and a sweater no longer qualify as "dressed up."
10. You're the one calling the police because those damn kids next door won't turn down the stereo.
11. Older relatives feel comfortable telling sex jokes around you.
12. You don't know what time Taco Bell closes anymore.
13. Your car insurance goes down and your car payments go up.
14. You feed your dog/cat Science Diet instead of McDonald's leftovers.
15. Sleeping on the couch makes your back hurt.
16. You take naps from noon to 6 PM
17. Dinner and a movie is the whole date instead of the beginning of one.
18. Eating a basket of chicken wings at 3 AM would severely upset, rather than settle, your stomach.
19. If you're a gal, you go to the drug store for ibuprofen and antacid, not condoms and pregnancy tests.
20. A $4.00 bottle of wine is no longer "pretty good stuff."
21. You actually eat breakfast food at breakfast time.
22. "I just can't drink the way I used to" replaces "I'm never going to drink that much again."
23. 90% of the time you spend in front of a computer is for real work.
24. When you find out your friend is pregnant you congratulate her instead of asking "Oh Shit What Happened!?!?!?!
25. You read this entire list looking desperately for one sign that doesn't apply to you and can't find one to save your sorry old ass.

Life before computers

  • Memory was something you lost with age
  • An application was for employment
  • A program was a TV show
  • A cursor used profanity
  • A keyboard was a piano
  • A web was a spider's home
  • A virus was the flu
  • A CD was a bank account
  • A hard drive was a long trip on the road
  • A mouse pad was where a mouse lived
  • And if you had a 3 inch floppy, you hoped nobody ever found out

A little Wednesday humour

A gorgeous young redhead goes into the doctor's office and says that her body hurts wherever she touches it.

"Impossible!" says the doctor. "Show me."

The redhead takes her finger, pushes on her left breast and screams, then she pushes her elbow and screams in even more agony. She pushes her knee and screams; likewise she pushes her ankle and screams. Everywhere she touches makes her scream.

The doctor smiles kindly and says, "You're not really a redhead, are you?"

"Well, no" she says, "I'm actually a blonde."

"I thought so," the doctor says. "Your finger is broken."

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Oh... My... God!

This just in: I'm a controlling freak!

Stay tuned to this blog channel at a later blog time for a full expose!

Remembering silly movies

Here're a few of the silly movies I've seen and mostly enjoyed:
  1. Shaun of the Dead - great societal satire and spoof of zombie movies - better done than most zombie movies
  2. Kung Pow: Enter the Fist - a hilarious spoof of all things Kung Fu - done by taking a real Kung Fu flick, digitally editing out one character, digitally editing in a brand new, Caucasian, character and redubbing the entire sound track, including dialog
  3. Starship Troopers - related to the Heinlen book by implication only, it is visually spectacular and also wildly illogial - even the completely out-of-the-blue and gratuitous nude shower scene doesn't make up for all the problems
  4. Evil Words - a Quebec film that doesn't look like it's from Quebec - a horror story about a psychiatrist battling a priest gone evil - French with English subtitles, it's one of the best Quebec films I've ever seen
  5. Karmina & Karmina 2 - hillarious vampire flicks from Quebec - French attempts at making weird slang dialog is a wonder to behold
  6. Freddy vs Jason - Two immortal evil dudes battle it out to the... well, not death, I guess... because of a practical joke
  7. Jason X - two babes from Andromeda sure light up the screen in reversed roles - Jason goes on a rampage aboard a transport ship in the 25th century, then manages to crash into a lake on an Earth-look-alike
  8. Flesh Gordon - a soft-core porn take on the old Flash Gordon series - a hilarious introduction to porn for the whole family - added at 10:50pm

My blog

What do I want for my blog?

I've been thinking about that lately. When I first started out, I was looking for a place to publish some witty(in my mind, at least) observations about TV, life, people, and all sorts of other things. Somehow, things got out of hand, and now I'm posting long, drawn out articles on commies and nazis. I'm not sure I like the direction it's been going. I don't particularly want to write about politics(there're plenty of blogs for that, both left and right), but sometimes it's unavoidable, and I end up writing long, gloomy posts about killing fields and wars and such.

Please bear with me as my blog and I go through mid-life crisis together, though for wildly different reasons. I will, of course, continue to post, and I hope to be back on track(whatever I decide the track should be) soon.

Thank you all for your patience.

The Mad Perseid.

Monday, May 09, 2005

Heartless history

There was, what I thought, an excellent program showing on the yesterday, about the last ten days of , focusing on ten people who lived through it, and survived, complete with interviews and historical footage, though not of the people showcased. There were no camcorders in those days, after all. One of the people shown was a young German woman living in Berlin during the final days, and especially during the assault on the city. This is the 60th anniversary of the end of that war, after all.

In general, I find it hard to sympasize with the during those last few day. Of course, I understand that life was horrible for them. The constant bombing runs they couldn't even defend against, looting and raping by the rampaging Red Army troops, the lack of basic staples and water, etc, etc, etc. It was terrible, to be sure, especially for those sublimely convinced of the superiority of their own race. Apparently, some German generals wanted to surrender to the even though they were fighting the in the , because they considered the Russians to be their inferiors. I'm sure the irony was lost on them.

But there have to be repercussions when you start a war with those who meant you no ill and kill over seventy million people in the process, including attempts at and classes from the face of the world. And sometimes those repercussions are pretty damn severe. Sublimely convinced of their superiority, the Germans embarked on a program of invasion and extermination across their entire continent, and even into . In those countries they conquered, they brought into power the most corrupt and brutal regimes ever to set foot into the halls of power. Wherever they could, they demanded that be turned over to them, and some regimes balked at that, they simply replaced them with more tractable ones.

It was a terrible war, full of actions and ideas and beliefs that stained entire generations with shame. It had major repercussions on continental politics for 50 years afterwards, and enslaved countless millions under the . One of the problems of communist occupation was that the local communists, the ones enslaving their own countries, were often far worse than the Russian ones. But I digress.

One of the emotions that shows like this always encourage in the viewers is one of feeling sorry for the Germans who endured the last weeks of the war. Somehow, that's not the way it works out for me. I don't feel sorry for them, I feel a sense of vindication, that payback's a bitch. Feel sorry for the Germans? What about the Dutch systematically starved to death by the Germans? What about the Jews and the and the gays and the twins and the weak and the (although I'm of two minds about them) and the Poles and the feebleminded and the countless others who had done absolutely nothing to the Germans. According to show, many of the Germans in wanted to surrender to the or the , not to the Russians. How much of that was knowledge of what the Germans had done in the USSR versus delusions of superiority towards the Russians I don't know.

Having said that, I must admit that I'm ashamed of what the Red Army troops had done in Germany, and especially in Berlin. Of course, what the Germans had done in their country went beyond the pale, but this was a chance for the Russians to show that they're above all that, that they're human beings after all, especially after what they themselves had just done, and continued to do, in their own country. Of course, nobody worried about “” in those days, and specifically targetted civilian centres for demolition through carpet bombing compaigns and rocket attacks.

What the Soviets went on to do in countries they themselves now occupied, and especially targetting those who had fought against the Nazis, was sick, disgusting and more than a little perverted. And all this because one crazy country with delusions of grandeur invaded another country with delusions of adequacy. If it weren't so sad, it would be quite funny.

So who do I feel sorry for in all this mess? I have pity for those who got abandoned in the vile clutches of communism in Eastern Europe, and I feel pity for the generations of West Germans born into shame over something they had nothing to do with. Not too much shame, as it happens: Germany was never asked to appologize, as far as I know. I feel pity for the Russians alive today who still believe they fought for communism(a regime whose attrocities during the Revolution, the civil war that followed it and the purges that came afterwards were so massive and horrible they still to this day hadn't entirely been accounted for), rather than for their country.

But pity for the Germans of that era? Never.

I don't know if I can contain myself

Wow! I'm absolutely breathless with excitement!

I just discovered that the big huge Minolta photocopier at work is also a networked laser printer and pdf-producing scanner. It'll do double-sided printing, stapling, holepunching, and to top it all off, it'll scan your printed documents and place them on the network for retrieval as PDF files.

Who knew? It's very exciting to discover new technology at work, and also kind of sad. I mean, has my life no other meaning? Is that all there is to my existence?

Science experiment

Here's a little science experiment you can perform in your own home without fear of burning the place down.

Pour a can of Coke into a cup. Drink the cup, leaving a small amount in the bottom. Allow to dry for several days. Pour a glass of water into cup, let stand several hours. Notice it has no effect on the dry layer of Coke at the bottom. Pour in a Sprite can. Let stand for ten minutes. Watch it lift and melt the dry Coke off the bottom. Drink up Sprite now mixed with Coke. Presto! You've learned something new.

 

Copyright © 2005 Yury D.   All Rights Reserved