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
It's not, "Just touch my dreams before you leave me, baby"?
I... guess cheek makes more sense, but I think I still like "dreams" better.
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
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
I'm honestly not sure if they were planning to go back in time, or if they just wanted to take over the extent of the Babylonian Empire.
And now I'm left wondering which would be the harder task.
Thursday, October 23, 2003
I have been ripping my CD collection, so that I can burn it all to CDs in MP3 format, to play in the car. I've made it through over 200 CDs, so far.
I just realized that my car stereo can't read ID3V2 tags. All my MP3s have ID3V2 tags, but no ID3V1.
I found 4 shareware programs that claimed to be able to solve my problem. Each one of them I found through a link that didn't tell me they were shareware. The two that would actually solve my problem were crippled such that they couldn't effectively help me. (One wouldn't do batches larger than 10 unless I registered, the other was going to credit itself in the comments unless I registered.) I couldn't see paying $20 (or more!) to use a program once, especially when the task I needed to perform was something I could probably write a program to do in an hour or two. There were more shareware programs out there, but I stopped looking after those four and started looking specifically for freeware.
Finally, I found the right selection of terms to feed Google, and found MP3 Book Helper. Freeware, and it does precisely what I need. Huzzah!
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
- 1000 Blank White Cards
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!"
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.
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
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
Loreena McKennitt / The Mummers' Dance
Peter Gabriel & Kate Bush - Don't Give Up
Saliva - Always (New release Nov 02)
Tori Amos - Cornflake Girl
Mazzy Star / Fade Into You(Acoustic)
Jimmy Eat World / Sweetness
Hoobastank / Running Away
Zac Maloy / Early Morning Phone Call
Mazzy Star / Fade Into You(Acoustic)
Loreena McKennitt / The Bonny Swans [Live]
Kate Bush / Wuthering Heights
Aimee Mann / Humpty Dumpty
Bowling For Soup - 03 - Girl All The Bad Guys Want (1)
Christina Aguilera / Beautiful
Custom / Hey Mister I Really Like Your
I'll "list" instead. (Plus the fridge has been cleaned recently enough that nothing is sufficiently motile to deserve a name.)
1. Name five things in your refrigerator.
Apple, Blueberry Jam, Cottage Cheese, Death Garden, Egg
2. Name five things in your freezer.
Frost, Glasses, Hydrolyzed Soy Protein, Ice, Junk
3. Name five things under your kitchen sink.
Key, Lock Lubricator, Mop 'n' Glo, Never Fog, Oven Cleaner
4. Name five things around your computer.
Prosser, Quarter, Redbook, Selections for Contracts, Towel
5. Name five things in your medicine cabinet.
Unisom, Vaseline, White Gardenia Soap, Gas-X, Yellow Pill
It's a nice combination.
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
The frequency with which I encounter a new feature or program and think, "Wow! They did this exactly the way I would have told them to, had they asked me!" (or, better, "What a fantastic interface! I would never have thought of that?") is increasing. The frequency of "Why wasn't it obvious to them to do it this way?" is decreasing. I continue to find plenty of fuel for tirades, but on the whole, the experience of being a GUI user is much more pleasant for me now than it was 10 years ago.
I have things to say about Microsoft products, but I'm going to leave it at this: At least they're improving.
When did they turn on Ctrl-Tab to switch between tabs in Mozilla? It had to have been at least six months ago... I can't believe it's been that long, and I haven't accidentally tried to do it even once.
Oh well. It's hard to be too pissed off when someone finally succumbs and does something the way you want them to, even if they don't tell you about it.
Whoa. So I decided to go ahead and switch over to Firebird at work... I'd been reluctant to switch because I've got a lot of settings just the way I like them in Mozilla. So... I decided to give it a shot, just copying over the whole profile directory. And it worked! It even brought over all my passwords. Awesome.
(Just in case someone stumbles across this and says, "Hey! That rocks, I'm going to do it, too!":
My profiles directory for Mozilla was C:\Documents and Settings\<username>\Application Data\Mozilla\Profiles\default\<random>.slt ; the directory for Firebird is the same, except Mozilla becomes Phoenix, and <random> is a different random string. I exited both browsers completely, and did an xcopy /s. This brings over everything, including history, cookies, and cache. I keep my cache at 5MB instead of the default 50MB, so that's not a big concern for me.)
Why Firebird instead of Mozilla? Well, I NEVER use anything but the browser, so no point to getting the whole suite... And having a built in Google bar that's hot-key accessible is just awesome.
Monday, October 13, 2003
Sunday, October 12, 2003
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
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
Astonishingly, I actually managed to find it again.
To all the people who are agonizing over CA electing Schwarzenegger, know this: There are people out there who think this is a victory against people like you.
First, it was spam (over a thousand a day, before spamassassin).
Then it was failure notices for spam that spoofed me as a return address (over 500 a day, before I started filtering for common subject lines. Why isn't this standardized in any way?).
Now, it's autoresponders. Only 3 in the past day, though. Earthlink at least explains what's going on, and lets you request to be pased through. One guy, near as I can tell, has his spamfilter set to respond to every spam he gets with "Your message will never be read." Yeah, that's fucking helping, guy.