flail doyou ?

Thursday, October 30, 2003

Wednesday, October 29, 2003

The aurora should be really vigorous, and when that happens, auroras can come all the way down from Canada; be visible here throughout the United States and maybe even down into the south, like Texas.

Kelly Beatty, executive editor of Sky and Telescope magazine, speaking on
All Things Considered this afternoon.

I know he didn't mean it the way it came out, judging by the number of "uh"s I had to remove from my transcription.

But after listening to the other article about how every living Texan is an evangelical Republican who wants to destroy the myth of the separation of church and state, maybe it would be better if we DID go our separate ways, for the good of the 48 sane states California.

Tuesday, October 28, 2003

Monday, October 27, 2003

Well, the research assignment due tomorrow isn't any closer to being finished than it was two hours ago.

On the other hand, I'm somewhat confident that I am eligibile to take the patent bar exam without having to take the Fundamentals of Engineering exam, despite the fact that UTD's computer science program wasn't ABET accredited when I graduated. (Nor is it ABET accredited now. Here I thought I was going to a quality university!) I can't be totally certain because UTD's online transcript system is currently down. I really should print that transcript out and keep it somewhere; the system is always down when I want to look something up.

Since UTD's CS program wasn't accredited, I have to come up with 40 hours of chemistry, physics, engineering, and "computer science courses which stress theoretical foundations, analysis, and design, and include substantial laboratory work, including software development" And I have to have gotten a C- or better in each of those 40 hours. I really wish UTD's transcript system were online so I could figure out where I stand. Instead I'm sitting here adding up hours in my head, trying to remember just what courses I actually got a C- or better in. Frustrating, and kind of depressing, too; I'm not too proud of my undergraduate grades. But for all that, it's still more entertaining than the research assignment.

Apparently, the best time to take the patent bar exam is before you start law school. That's something that would have been really nice to know a year or so ago.

Saturday, October 25, 2003

It suddenly occurs to me just how much I hate the album title "$ARTIST's Greatest Hits." This occurs to me because I'm looking right now at the track listing for "Bob Dylan's Greatest Hits," and although I consider Bob Dylan one of my favorite artists from his genre, there's only one song on this album that I would actually choose to listen to.

Of course, there are also "Bob Dylan's Greatest Hits Vol. 2" and "Bob Dylan's Greatest Hits Vol. 3," and between the three albums, it looks like they have probably half of my favorites.

Friday, October 24, 2003

Thursday, October 23, 2003

Sunday, October 19, 2003

Let's try this Wish again. This time, I'm just going to type it up in Notepad - Notepad doesn't crash.

Recommend three non-RPG games for RPGers. Why do you recommend these three?
  • Settlers of Cataan
  • The best thing about Settlers of Cataan is that I have yet to find someone who doesn't enjoy it. Even people who generally hate board games more complex than Monopoly(*) get sucked right in. The second best thing is that it's the sort of game that you can hold a new player's hand for the first five rounds or so while you teach them the game, and not have them end up feeling like there's no point to playing the rest of the game now because everybody's seen their hand.

    And you never get tired of "I've got wood for a sheep!"

  • 1000 Blank White Cards
  • Here is a statement of the rules. Here is the history. Here are the results of the games I've played in.

    It's good because it's fast-paced, it lets everybody create something, and there's a physical result at the end of the game that you can put on the web. There's also the part where nobody actually cares who scores the most points at the end, that's entertaining too. I've known quite a few gamers who are absolutely no fun to play explicitly competetive games with because they're poor losers. Someone who manages to get upset at losing 1kbwc has no soul.

  • Gammarauders
  • It's just so damned goofy. Pretty hard to find, and nothing really deep about it, but it's got giant animals that squash hovertanks. What's not to love? Plus, I'd just feel goofy mentioning Munchkin when everyone else has already covered it.

Saturday, October 18, 2003

So I'm burnt out on citation exercises, and I decide to take a look at iTunes for Windows.

Yeah, they've got songs; yeah, I just don't feel like paying $10 for an album to have to burn it off to a CD then rip it back to my hard drive so I can burn it to a CD as MP3. I tried to want to, but I couldn't.

So then I notice they've got audiobooks. Well, that's cool. Let's see, nonfiction, alright... And then you have to select from a list of authors. You can select "All" and get all the books alpha by title, or you can select an author and get just their work. Well, that's great. Let's just look for... Hang on... These authors are alpha by first name.

So, really, there are two problems. The first problem is that I just don't browse "nonfiction" by author. I want them to break it down better, and to an extent they do. Instead of looking at nonfiction, I can look at "Biography & Memoir," "Business," "History," "Science," "Sports," or "Technology." But I'm even less inclined to browse any of these topics by author. It just doesn't make sense.

Ok, so you take this, and you add to it the fact that it's riddled with errors. I am looking right now at a "Biography & Memoir." The "Author" (the only sortable field) is Bill Meisle. The "Song Name" is Mark Twain (unabridged). The "Artist" is Geoffrey C. Ward, Dayton Duncan, and Ken Burns. Is this making sense to anyone? (Admittedly, if I were specifically interested in an audiobook having something to do with Mark Twain, I could have gone to the powersearch feature and searched for "Songs" titled "Mark Twain" in the "Audiobooks" Genre.

Ok, back to Nonfiction. Oh. Look. Ayn Rand. This should be interesting.
Atlas Shrugged (Unabridged), Volume 1 13:29:07 $49.95
Atlas Shrugged (Unabridged), Volume 2 16:49:55 $53.95
Atlas Shrugged (Unabridged), Volume 3 4:20:56 $61.95

I can say with authority that the last 4 hours of Atlas Shrugged are not worth $61.95. I can't vouch for Volume 2, though - that's pretty much the part I skipped. (Remember - I'm looking in Nonfiction)

When you count all three volumes together, it's the most expensive single work available. The most expensive single song is The Iliad, at 16 hours for $101.95. But my personal favorite entry from the whole site is "The Canterbury Tales (Unabridged)." I mean, certainly, the editors haven't abridged it, but...

And just to add insult to... well, to bad UI... They have audiobooks marked "Explicit," but there's no way to search just for those books! Curses.

Friday, October 17, 2003

So, lately, I've been feeling kind of awkward. On the one hand, I've never considered myself a Democrat. I don't really consider myself a liberal. I have some strong beliefs, and those beliefs happen to put me on the liberal side of the map a lot of the time. So let's have a look at my strong beliefs.

I believe that "all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness," and that "to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed."

I believe that governments should not make any law "respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances."

I believe that "the right of the people to keep and bear arms, [should] not be infringed."

I believe that "[t]he right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, should not be violated, and no warrants should issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."

I believe that the rule of law benefits humanity.

And I believe that sex acts do not have an inherent moral character, any more than I feel football has an inherent moral character.

I'm not using any of this as secret code. I don't believe that a prohibition of religiously themed monuments is a necessary result of the first amendment. I don't believe that affirmative action flows inexorably from every human's inalienable rights. But in general, I make decisions informed by these principles. And somehow, those decisions often find me wanting to argue with people who label themselves "conservatives," and agreeing with people who label themselves "liberals."

Which is why I find it very disturbing to learn that
I want to tens of thousands of innocent people to die.

Thursday, October 16, 2003

Wednesday, October 15, 2003

Monday, October 13, 2003

Sunday, October 12, 2003

Hmm. Apparently, Emusic is on to my cunning plan to download as much as I can before they switch the account types. They've chosen to fight back by making the service extremely unreliable. So far, I've had the download client crash twice three times; the download client occasionally hangs on a track forever, but if I cancel it and download it again, it will go through (here's a hint, guys - paying customers appreciate timeouts, no matter how patronizing they are); at one point it went to "connecting to peer" no matter which song it was downloading; and in the "more bizarre than problematic" file, I've got several tracks in the queue right now that are listed as slightly over 1GB each. That last doesn't affect the actual download, though. The whole thing would be a lot easier to stomach if they checked to see if a song existed before downloading it, instead of saving the same damn track again with a (1) after it. Then I could just throw the whole album back in the queue and let it fill in the gaps.

I'm determined to get my 4,000 tracks out of them, though. This only strengthens my resolve. I'm assuming every other subscriber to the service is taking exactly the same attitude, and that's probably why the system sucks so much right now.

And on that topic... I was thinking about whether or not the new system is a good deal. A quarter a track is a pretty good price compared to a lot of albums, depending on what kind of music you like. Music For Airports is $15 at Amazon, $1 through Emusic (except that they don't have it, but it's the only full-length album with only four tracks on it I could think of.) Bad Religion 1980-85 is $17 through Amazon, and $7 through Emusic (plus the cost of a CDR blank if you're into that sort of thing.) It's still not a bad deal compared to current CD prices, and maybe Emusic is going to be getting better artists under the new model. It mostly seems awful because the initial offering was "Get a boatload of music you might hate on the cheap!" Now, the offering is "Get two or three albums a month for less than you'd pay Amazon.com. Oh, and 90% of our catalog is people you've never heard of; sorry."

Ok, I'm just going to give up getting anything out of Emusic today... I managed to squeeze 80-85 out of them while I wrote this, but now I'm getting errors downloading about half the tracks I go after. Bleah. So, yeah, I'd amend my earlier note - I only appreciate timeouts if you push the failed song to the back of the queue.

Thursday, October 09, 2003

Well, so much for Emusic:
Unless you visit the link below: [] and notify us of your intention to cancel your subscription prior to November 8, 2003, your EMusic subscription will convert into EMusic Basic. Under EMusic Basic, you will be billed $9.99 per month for access to the service with no minimum monthly commitment, but you will be limited to no more than 40 downloads during your monthly billing cycle.

That's 40 tracks, not 40 albums. They have a premium service, but it's almost as dumb - $50 for 300 tracks. I guess the up side is that we can (I hope) get 4,000 tracks out of them before they turn us off - 2,000 in October, and another 2,000 before November 8.

Sure, $10 for 40 tracks is still an attractive price, but not with the selection Emusic has.

What REALLY sucks is, if you go to the site right now, there's NO WAY to find out how many tracks you can download per month at the $9.99 rate. They took out all the "unlimited download" references - but left in the "unlimited burning," which is truly misleading, since you can only burn tracks for your own personal use - sure, it's really important to me that I could burn 900 copies of a track. And no reference to the 40 track limit at all.

Oh well. I should be able to fill up 10 more CDs full of MP3s if I'm lucky, and really some of the stuff I've gotten has already made what I've had to pay worthwhile.

Wednesday, October 08, 2003

Tuesday, October 07, 2003

Monday, October 06, 2003

Sunday, October 05, 2003

Thursday, October 02, 2003

copyright 2003

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