Sunday, October 30, 2005

Networking escapades & other weekend tidbits

Continued my home networking adventures this weekend:

  • Ran 120v AC to the media panel so I can power the modem, router & switch
  • Spliced TV cable at a convenient (not) location and ran it to the media panel as well
  • Mounted ethernet jack 'rack' for the connectors
  • Plugged in the switch and tested & labelled the CAT6 lines I ran a few days ago to make sure they worked.

Next step is a difficult cable run from the room I use as my office down to the crawlspace under the house. Not sure how I'm going to do it, but would like to avoid running it outside the house. Once I get that one done, it can go live (even though I have a couple other lines to run.

What else happened this weekend? Took the kids to a twins-group halloween party (pix sometime soon. Very cute); did some work around the house; went to the gym (nothing injured this time!), carved 4 pumpkins (more tiring than the gym!), and caught up on work a bit.

Still have some work to do before leaving for the Montreal game summit this week.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Sulu comes out!

The actor that played Sulu on the original Star Trek series has, at the age of 68, come out of the closet and proclaimed he's gay.

I've got nothing against homosexuals, and I applaud his coming out late in life which must have been difficult.

However, there are too many jokes here not to speak up.

  • I was sure I saw his eyebrows perk up a bit whenever Kirk said "Captain's Log"
  • "Mr Spock, give me your vulcan nerve pinch... on this nerve here!"
  • No wonder Ohuru's come-hither looks had no effect!
  • "I could have sworn I heard 'warp factor five!' coming from his quarters last night", says Kirk

OK, I'll stop now.

This week's "originality in job candidates" awards

Two great things I came across this week:

  • Darius Kazemi, who commented on a previous blog post, gets an award for his business card, which doubles as a game. Sweet!
  • JobsBlog has this great post about Erik Porter, recent hire to the Channel 9 team, who showed up at his job interview in a t-shirt (gets the corporate culture) that said (front) "I don't work here" and (back) "...yet". Way to show confidence!

Director's Cut

I haven't played it yet, but I saw that HL2: Lost Coast is out on Steam.

...and that they've added a "director's cut" type of play mode, where the developer walks you through the thing as you are playing.

Why the F no one thought of this before I have no idea. Nice job Valve!

Thursday, October 27, 2005


Bill Hill is blogging.

I don't know Bill, though he does reside in the same MS Campus building as I do. He works on the team that does 'advanced reading technologies' (font tech like ClearType and other text-on-screen-lookin'-pretty type of stuff).

He's smart, interesting, and *deliciously pedantic* when it comes to typography. Read his blog and check out the cool channel 9 videos he's done (interesting video on a number of subjects, Nice story about where his passion comes from, pedantry about why only one space should go after a period - something I've ranted about before to friends!

Anyhow, he's a real character. Check it out when you have the time.

Bill Gates on MTV

My goodness. What's the world coming to?

Interesting to see him do this kind of open forum. The caliber some of questions the kids came up with are really impressive.

You can view clips (maybe the whole show? there's quite a bit) here.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Top 100 novels

Steve Lacey pointed me to Time's Top 100 Novels of All Time.

It's a sad statement that I've only read FIVE of them. (Not counting the Judy Blume book that a girl in the fourth grade read me the dirty bits of during some memory-forging after-school escapes. *snicker*)

Nice to see Snowcrash on the list.

*I suppose you could say it's 102, and that I've read seven of them - Since lord of the rings is three books, if you want to be pedantic about it.

What the BFG is really for

I'm sure the new Doom movie sucks, however, I did enjoy seeing The Rock's appearance on the Daily Show. He carried out a big plastic BFG with him, and made it apparent that they both played the original game.

JS: "Oh my god, that's the BFG!"

TR: "Yep, the Big F***ing Gun!"

JS: "THAT's the thing you use when your wife tells you it's time to save your game and come to bed!"

Ha ha! Amen brother!

[Update: Jason Della Rocca was nice enough to send the link to the interview on comedy central]

Home Networking update

A while back I'd mentioned that I was planning to wire the house with gigabit ethernet. Two things happened that delayed this:

1) After going into the crawlspace under the house to see how stuff should be routed, we noticed we had a little rodent problem. Exterminator was brought in, holes sealed up, insulation replaced, etc, etc. Problem now (we hope) solved.

2) Anyone who's ever done any running of cables in an existing house can tell you: it's a heck of a job. Takes a long time, lots of crawling around in crawlspaces, frustrating fishing of wires blindly, etc. So, I was basically procrastinating on actually starting, because once I did, it was going to take a while.

Well, I started.

  • On Sunday I cut a hole in the garage wall and installed a Leviton Structured Media Center Enclosure (nice way to say Big Metal Box All The Wires Go To)
  • Monday night I measured and cut the first four Cat6 cables, crimped female snap-in connectors to them, and fished the wires through to the crawlspace.
(The first 4 connectors were all for the media room: Media center PC, Xbox, ReplayTV, and one for future expansion. Could use my fourth for my PS2 I suppose, but who'd want to do that?)

In all, I'll be set up for up to 16 ports though I only have 12 planned: 4 in the media room, 4 in my office, 2 in Alisa's office, 1 in the bedroom, and 1 in the guest room.

The adventure continues tonight! Wired home, here I come!

Who's a Journalist?

Interesting article up on CNET from Declan McCullagh about the current effort in Congress to pass a shield law for journalists (good) and how "bloggers" are being excluded from that (bad?).

It's an interesting read as there are a lot of issues to be considered: Who says who is or isn't a journalist? Is the average citizen unable to invoke first amendment rights without fear of retribution, since he's not shielded by a press badge?

I understand the other side of the arguement. It's so easy for any joker to get up on the web these days and start spouting off (ahem, case in point: look what you are reading!). There needs to be some measure of accountability for irresponsible reporting, and this should be balanced against the protection afforded to the press.

A somewhat analogous example: Trade-only conferences/exhibitions usually have a fairly steep entry fee to (a) make up for the fact that they don't actually sell goods on teh show floor and (b) to keep the average enthusiast away. In order to encourage press coverage, they normally give free or discounted entry to press. Back when the internet boom kicked off, everyone and their uncle was showing up at Comdex/E3/etc and saying "I'm press. I edit sometechiesite-dot-com." After a while this was getting out of hand and their press attendance was up 1000%. Eventually they had to only grant press passes to "established" press. I'm not even sure how they police it today.

Anyhow, there are good points on both sides of the issue, so it makes for a good read and good debate.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Awesome day!

Beautiful day here. Sunny and warm.

Took the kids to Bellevue's Downtown Park, where they played on the playground equipment (fun), ran across the fields (fun), fed their cereal to the ducks (super fun) and topped it off by coming to a giant pile of leaves that they decided it would be fun to jump and roll in. YOu'd think someone had showed them that was their purpose. Anyhow, that was awesome.

Super Saturday.

Star Wars Animated Gif

Via BoingBoing

[Edit: Someone (correctly) pointed out that I didn't credit the original author & source. Posted on b3ta by FoldsFive. Oops, sorry! Fixed]

Friday, October 21, 2005


Tim Cherna (friend and homme-du-pomme) points us to a french canadian program, and it's Podcast (same link) Baladodiffusion.

The place for cool indie french canadian sh$t!

Anyhow, I haven't given it a listen yet, but I love that all the latest web terms have been given F.C. equivalents:

Blog = Blogue
Podcast = Baladodiffusion
Blogosphere = blogosphère

And it's not just made up, the language police have come up with the proper terms. The also recommend AVOIDING the usual quebecois trend to "frenglish" a word by taking the english word and doing french conjugation of it (e.g. 'to podcast' becomes 'podcaster', as in 'nous podcastons ce soir'.

That dictionary is going to keep me busy tonight! Next up, graphics terminology!

Aouai! C'est mal commode, tabarnaque! 'cris!

Monster growth, monster stock

Google reports third quarter results:
... revenues of $1.578 billion for the quarter ended September 30, up 96% compared to the third quarter of 2004…

Yes, rub your eyes a bit. That's 96%.

The stock was up $36 today. Yep. you read right. $36. ~11%.

That means their market cap jumped by like $6B in one day.

Holy tap-dancing traders, batman!

OUCH! Quake4 review

Robin Hunicke posted this comment on Quake4. Not sure where she got it from but OUCH!

(too good not to cut and paste)

Quake 4 has everything!
It’s got the graphics of Doom 3, the setting of Quake 2, squadmates just like Opposing Force,rail shooter segments like Sin,an airboat sequence just like Half-Life 2,mechs like Chronicles of Riddick,a recharging shield system just like HALO,a hot chick computer voice who coordinates the troops just like HALO,aliens holding glowing energy shields just like HALO,the grenade effect from FEAR,the shellshock effect from Call of Duty,a Scary Level without any enemies, just like Aliens vs Predator, and cheesy music stings when “surprising” things happen,just like every B-grade horror flick ever.

The only thing they didn’t put in was something to make Quake 4 a game in its own right.And I think they missed something else –what is it? –Oh yeah,the fun.

Maybe they’re saving that for the expansion pack.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Bonkers for Burke!

OK, so a while ago I ranted about James Burke and his books & videos.

I found out the local library has the connections series (1,2,3) on DVD. Unfortunately, they are all sporadically out, so renting them in order is practically impossible (each of the series is 10 episodes on 5 DVDs. That's 15 DVDs and 30 hours of viewing!

This week Alisa and I watched Connections I, episodes 7 through 10. Simply awesome stuff.

And although it's somewhat dated in appearance (connections 1 was released in 1979), it was remarkably ahead of it's time. In just the four episodes we watched, he uses history to point to implications of current day (for then) inventions and their implication on the future. Amongst those he mentions:

  • Advances in transportation and communication leading to a globalized workforce and the move of much of the manufacturing (first) and other (later) jobs to developing nations.
  • The implications of the computerized 'cashless' society and the dangers it will pose on privacy when banks and other corporations have as much or more information about individuals as governments do.
  • What later would become known as the digital divide: The implications of a society in which more and more of what we depend upon is rooted in technology, and fewer and fewer people understand it, have access to it, and are empowered to make decisions on it.
  • How this increased pace of innovation and specialization will lead to a world of "talking point" decision making based on emotion and not fact and debate.
  • How the computer combined with telecommunications will thrust into an age where the rate of innovation and change will make the previous history's seem like a snail's crawl.

Wow. Pretty ahead of his time. Sure, he wasn't the only guy thinking about these things, but that all five of those bullets are nailed in just 4 hours of a 30 hour set of discs in pretty awesome.

Go get it at your local library! Or go spend the $450 bucks you'll need to buy the whole thing! Beleive me, I'm tempted...

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

And the prize for gratuitous tech goes to...

The guys at ChessBase, as discussed on gamasutra.

  • "ChessBase GmbH has taken the unusual step of licensing Ageia's PhysX hardware-accelerated physics engine for an upcoming chess game. Fritz 9, its upcoming release, will incorporate not only the physics engine but also 3D graphics and surround sound. "Fritz 9 is indeed the ultimate chess game, and Ageia PhysX technology is the ultimate physics solution for our game engine," said ChessBase managing director Jeroen van den Belt. "Ageia PhysX technology helps us continue to offer the magic of chess in new ways for new generations of players." Left unsaid by Mr. van den Belt was precisely what the physics engine's role in the traditionally sedate board game will be..."

I, for one, hope it's for a "TO HELL WITH YOU AND THIS BLASTED GAME!" board-and-table-flipping-in-a-fit-of-rage mode!

Seriously. C'mon Kathy! Focus, focus!

So THAT'S what's wrong with me!

Robin Hunicke points us to this interesting post on HRIP (High Rate of Idea Production), a term used for those of us who are afflicted with the condition of having ideas far faster than we can implement them.

I definitely am a long-time sufferer!

Before I sound too much like I'm tooting my own horn, I'll be the first to point out that the HRIP-afflicted are only a short lapse of self-discipline away from being DOPES(Distracted Often, Perpetually Exchanging Specialties)

Videogame Aesthetics - Alive and well, thank you!

I finally got around to reading David Hayward's article on videogame aesthetics.

It's a good read, and a good tour of notable visual style landmark games, so I recommend reading it.

However, I do take issue with the assertion (actually indirectly/conditionally made) that there isn't anything happening in any direction other than photo-real. If you include indie and casual games, then you could argue that the MAJORITY of games being developed fall into the abstract or iconified ends of the 'triangle'.

Granted, the big money is funding photo-real titles, but since when did that become an issue when appreciating aesthetics? People routinely point to indie films at Sundance or Cannes as examples of something fresh/new/different. You don't hear others say "not a $100M hollywood title! Doesn't count!"

Also, it's a nit, but he lumps a bunch of the "cel-shaded" titles together as imitators of Jet Set Radio/Jet Grind Radio. (1) They didn't set the stage for that, a bunch of siggraph papers and other research did (including some from Adam Lake and other friends at Intel research), and Jet Grind was just one of the first to market. Likely all those others were already headed to pressing by the time they shipped. Also, some, like XIII, innovated with game-implementation of the comic visual style in their own way (e.g. in-set panels dramatacizing head-shots - love it!).

So, that's my 2c. Read it anyway, but you've been warned.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Awesome photoblog

Sam Javanrouh's photoblog is phenomenal. Despite the humble "I started this experiment for visual practice" claim, almost 100% of the photos are really outstanding. What an eye!

Photography buffs: make sure to look at the archives and make sure to hover your cursor over each pic, as you'll get detail on camera settings used to snap the pic. (which is where I learned about Lensebaby! Whee!)

Maybe it's the mushrooms, but... Mario Rock Opera?

To quote from another rock opera: Can't explain.

So just click.

Hear the Mario tunes put to lyrics here on myspace. (rant about how much I EFFing hate myspace later)

"Now I'm just a shadow
I've lost the world above
All for the woman that I love..."

Monday, October 17, 2005

Top ten weblog design mistakes

Jakob Nielson posts this really good list of common design mistakes people are guilty of with their blogs. It's a good read if you blog or are thinking about doing so.

I am guilty of #3 (wow, I made it past 1,2), 4, 5, 6, 8, and 10.

#3 and #4 get fixed now. Self-discipline is the only issue here.

#5, #6, #10 are going to take more time. I do plan on doing a major site redesign, taking into account these issues, some useability/capability issues I have with blogger, and (if it fits my needs) moving to one of MS's blog services ('cause dogfooding's important!).

#8 (mixing topics) I'm in violation of, but wrestling with. I'm hoping the right categorization will help, but I'll have to see what I can come up with in terms of interface that lets this be done in an intuitive way for readers. Maybe multiple blogs with a megafeed or "one blog to rule them all"?

#1,#2,#7, #9 are the only ones I passed on. 4/10. Not exactly a gold-star grade, now is it?

Here's to self-improvement!

hardcore hackery

Courtesy Alice.

This guy hacked his PSP and found a way to jam in an iTrip FM tuner/transmitter.

SW hacking is one thing. HW hacking is another thing. HW hackery on micro-small consumer devices is another thing altogether. I mean they didn't build that PSP will a lot of spare room in there for fitting things inside, let alone getting it all to work.

Anyhow, sweet. Plus his low-tech-look web page has another hi-tech hack ($12 night vision camera) and looks like a good place to keep on the faves list.

I'm not so sure I (heart) Katamari

I've been laboring through We (heart) Katamari, the highly anticipated sequel to Katamari Damacy, and I have to say, I'm not really loving it.

I really wanted to like it. Really. I did.

The first game was such a lovely surprise. And so simple, and compelling, and new, and fresh.

The sequel is certainly more of the same. It adds some new twists as well. However, for some reason it's just not doing it for me like the first did.

Despite all the talk of it being more polished than the first (could it have NOT been?!), many parts feel very rushed or contrived. For example the "template" for level completion sequence with the King: "We think it feels (noun)-ish", etc.

Some of the interesting new bits (e.g. Sumo level) are interesting, but not FUN. Sumo level just felt akward and frustrating due to rolling a non-round object. The underwater level was pretty but frustratingly dampened.

Feels a little bit like the follow-ons to The Matrix. I went into the first movie not knowing AT ALL what to expect and was thrilled. Perhaps sequels, while good, just never live up to the expecations we place upon them. I suppose they occasionally do (HL2, Quake 2 and 3, Police Acadamy six - ok maybe not that last one).

On the plus side, Katamari's generating some great merchandise and fan art:

(photo courtesy Tim "lego my lego" Cherna)

If at first you don't succeed...

Spielberg/EA game deal announcement.

"Spielberg will work directly with EA's development teams to offer his signature style of storytelling to the concept, design, story and artistic visualization of the new games"

Umm... The Dig... E.T.

Sorry. Couldn't resist. (**snicker**)

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Ow ow ow!

Jeez. I must be getting old. My back has just recovered from the tweaking I gave it, and now something else.

I was carrying Tom in my arms this morning out to the car, and tripped going down the stairs. I managed to partially break Tom's fall before clunking his head on the garage floor (some tears and screaming, but he's fine). However, I twisted my ankle pretty badly (some tears and screaming, but I'm not fine).

I thought I was OK, and walked on it for a few hours, but this afternoon came into the office to catch up on some stuff and it's growing increasingly swollen and painful. I'm hobbling around in full-on middle-aged-man mode.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

It came from Korea

Samsung is going to eat the world.

This month Fortune has a pretty good 75th anniversary edition out. I recommend picking it up.

ANyhow, in it there is a story on Samsung. If you are in the technology biz - and I mean anything consumer HW or SW related, you should fear them!

Back when I was at Intel, while most thought of AMD, Motorola, or IBM, or perhaps Sony, as the competition; there was a growing sense that Samsung was the real enemy long term.

Trick question: On the average Windows PC sold, who makes the most money? Most of you would answer Microsoft, Intel, or perhaps the OEM (Dell, HP, etc) that sold you the machine. Truth is, it's Samsung. They increasingly have the lion's share of the build of materials of the average PC. Even though they don't have huge MSS in any one market (biggest might be in memory, and even then they are no where near monopoly-like. But get 10-30% MSS in a bunch of different markets (memory, components, hard drives, monitors, etc, etc) and it starts to add up!

Most people own WAY more samsung product than they realize.

Little crazy stuff

... you see running around doing errands on a saturday.

  • What the EFFFF is with the shortage on mini-SD memory? I dropped by a number of places during the week, and then four places today. ALL SOLD OUT! They all claimed it's because a number of phone vendors have come out with models that take mini-SD and so there's been a run on them. Makes sense. I wanted it for my phone :-(
  • Kudos for making the best of a crappy job! You know those billboard/sandwichboard people you see on street corners trying to flag you down for some mattress sale? I saw a woman, maybe 40-ish, doing that for a living. Instead of just waving at everyone, she had an MP3 player on and was TOTALLY rocking out, dancing like a maniac on a street corner in the rain. "Sandwich board be damned! I'm gonna disco my ass off!". Kudos, for dancing to your own beat, crazy sandwich board mattress selling lady!
  • THe positive effects of globalization: On recommendation of a friend a while back we got some takeout from Can-AM pizza. Despite the canadian & american flags on their website, they are owned by an indian family and sell specialty pizzas like mexican, greek, and a range of Indian pizzas. We got the paneer-masala-butter pizza adn the tandoori chicken pizza. Yummy!

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Thoughts on Google

...not from me though.

Steve Lacey has a nice summary of an MSR research lecture from John Battelle, co-founder of Wired mag, over on his blog.

John was talking about his latest book, and thoughts on Google. A favorite quote, as quoted from a Google insider, was "We’re one bad PR event away from being viewed as Big Brother".

There are also some comments on the problems with the company's direction (or plurality thereof) and growth rate.

Anyhow, it's a good read.

And before anyone comments; I'm not an MS "google hater". I use some of their tools, including search, pretty regularly. I'm just a hobbyist student of organizational structure, growth, and transition, and I think they are, and will increasingly be, a good case study.


Chris has a good rant going over on his blog. Not good from the perspective that I agree with it. Just good in that he's worked up and rants make for entertaining reads.

I'm not going to defend the Xbox team or product. The way I see it, it's shipping in a few weeks and it'll speak for itself.

I will say this. I was over at that campus late this evening and there are a lot of people working real hard to make sure lots of people have a happy thanksgiving & xmas this year. Nuthin' wrong with that.


Umm... not sure if they are supposed to post this or not, but this site has Burke's "The Day The Universe Changed" in MP3 format, narrated by Burke himself, availble for download free.

If you are going to download it, buy a copy of the book anyway. It's got more detail than the three hours of MP3, and some money will get back to Burke.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

When advergaming goes wrong!

Good for you, Nabisco! You wanted a to have an advergame developed!

Good for you, a throw-the-cracker/chip-into-the-box Golf-style game! Great idea! Who doesn't love golf? Who doesn't love snacks?

Umm... now perhaps we need a name? What shall we call it?

Hmmm.... Golf... holes! Chips... corn!

That's it!!!

Ladies and Gentlemen, let's play little CORNHOLE, shall we?


Good grief. What were they thinking?

Other advergames we may soon see:

Ford's "Back seat bingo"
Oscar Meyer's Whack-a-mole clone "weiner whacker"
Fedex's "Look at my package!"
Squirrel Peanut Butter's DDR knock-off "kick my nuts as fast and hard as you can!"

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

More Burke!

Found a *great* interview with James Burke from WNYU radio

Toward the bottom of the list located HERE. (Audio only)

The first few minutes are an interview with John Sexton, which is also a good read.

That's a lot of carnage

We gave away a "spindle" for a solar blanket cover for the pool today. It was old, came with the house, we're getting a safety cover, etc. Needed to go, we craigslisted it, and got a taker.

So the guy comes over, I help him take it apart, we're talking and he recognizes my Canadian accent. (2nd person to remark on it today - is it getting thicker?)

Anyhow, he states that he was in northern Alberta last week. I ask where. He says some inuit sounding town. I ask if he flew through Edmonton. He states he drove. I ask why (cause it's far).

Turns out they were hunting geese. Needed the truck to haul them all back, plus gear (which is like, ammo n' stuff).

I ask how many they shot.

"We killed 29 geese on the last day alone!" he proudly exclaims.

"Whoa. That's a lot of recreational carnage." I replied.

I was rather fond of my response. He didn't know quite what to make of it.

Then we talked about other stuff and he left.

James Burke on the next 50 (42 really) years

At lunch today, James Burke came up in conversation.

For those of you that don't know him, he's a author/speaker/historian/etc/etc who is most famous for his Connections series of programs done back in the 70's, 80's and 90's. More detail on Burke here.

I freakin' LOVE Connections and continually wrestle with dishing out the $150/per for the 3 box sets.

Anyhow, after doing some searching, I found out that Burke's opening speech from the ACM97 conference is available online here. (the video starts at slide 2 or 3)

You have to click through the slides one at a time and click the video icon on the top right for each individually, but it's well worth it. He's very entertaining, and his comments are as pertinent today as they were then.

Go watch it now. It's good for your brain!

The problem with "next gen" had a good review of the 360 pull-back-the-curtain show that was given to some press.

You can read it here.

WHile it reads well, it expresses some opinion that I fear will be a very common theme through all the next-gen launches (yes, including nintendo's)

"The problem is that current-generation console games are already damned slick. Are these new ultra-ultra-impressive graphics really necessary?

It's true that looking at an arena filled with tens of thousands of fans--each of whom is rendered individually--sounds good. But does it make for a better game? I think the jury's still out on that. "
"Yet in the end, I came back once again to wondering if it's all really necessary. When it comes to enjoying a video game basketball experience, just how real does the sweat have to be?"

Monday, October 10, 2005

If I weren't married

My house would become VERY, VERY cluttered after seeing this.

Sunday, October 9, 2005

No More Carnage

Not a statement wishing for peace, but rather a statement about the fact that I sold my combination SmashTV/Total Carnage Jamma arcade machine last night.

This was the first machine that I bought & converted (not custom plexi control panel I built. not too shabby!), so I was a bit sad to let it go, but the new house hasn't the room for it, and I rarely played it.

Had a good round of SmashTV before I sold it though!

Friday, October 7, 2005

Something interesting is happening...

...on the Internet.


Specifically I'm talking about a lot of really cool customizable services and applications happening through a combination of technologies like Ajax combined with peer/friend/blogger matching and/or communication.

The result start with apps that are customizable by users (e.g. I use as my homepage now), but quickly get to mor compelling areas like customizable search, peer-customized search, peer-matchmaking-and-adjusted-search, etc.

Check out:

for a couple interesting examples. (Thanks to Charles and Adam for pointers to the above).

I might just be getting more exposure to these things now, but maybe not. It feels like the rate at which these are popping up is snowballing, and that it's no longer the complexity of linking them together (thanks to the whole web services arena), but the idea of linking the right ones togehter in the right way.

Sandip, if you are reading, you need to go find Dean and give him a great big whopping "I told you so!" :-)

OK Mark, you are right

San Fran is a pretty cool town.

Wish I could have been there for this.

Getting my back back

Back's still hurting, but at least I'm mobile and semi-functional now (though I have to be real careful about what chair/table combo I'm using to type at or it starts to hurt pretty bad).

Good news: MS has medicine cabinets that are fully loaded, so I get free ibuprofin.

Bad news: They are the generic kind that are round rather than "caplet" shaped, so they don't fit in the pez dispenser - which would be handy right now.

Thursday, October 6, 2005

Bush says God made him do it

OH man. This can't be good.

Please say it ain't so!

Ming boggling

Grokking the Chinese gaming market is hard, but the more I learn, the more I'm astounded by the potential.

There is a reality that lies somewhere between the opinions that range from "X hundred million online gamers by Y months from now" optimism to "that's not right it's way small and no one has any money over there" pessimism. Even if that reality is only a fraction of the way along that scale, it's going to change the industry in profound ways.

It's very exciting, but now my head hurts as well as my back (which is recovering slowly).

Canajun perverts!

I got an email from Sitemeter with data about my blog's traffic, which has been up from normal lately.

Curious, I went to site meter (see link on lower right of this page) and looked at some of the data. It's always interesting to see who's reading, where they were referred from, etc.

Anyway, the increase in traffic is mainly due to people googling for the location of where Playboy is showing up at McGill to do their photoshoot, which I blogged about a few weeks back.

Sigh. And I thought maybe I'd said something interesting.

Um, guys? If you live in Montreal, you are privvy to some of most inexpensive and, ahem, liberal strip clubs in all of north america. Take the hormones over there and get over it, would'ja?

Wednesday, October 5, 2005


...Is not a noise your back should make.

OW! OW! OW! OW!!!!

A combination of having been absent from the gym for a week and overdoing it because I'd been absent a week led to me doing something very, very bad to my back.


Tuesday, October 4, 2005

Search for the perfect search

Good article on some of the issues surrounding search. Pretty big connondrum when you think about it.

"So the threat is this. In a world where people believe a perfect search exists, that world may fail to seek out knowledge in other ways. Someone blogs something that’s factually incorrect. Search picks this up. There are no other references out there. Search is perfect, ergo, what’s wrong becomes right. No one bothers to actually follow up on the fact."
(//end snip)

Some people call me a skeptic because my parents taught me to question everything I read, see or hear. Well, I plan on teaching my kids the same thing.

MS opens up

Good article on (gasp) Mac Dev Center about MS's increased transparency with it's customers, led by the blogging community.

"I think it's about time we collectively recognised that MS is right at the leading edge of corporate communication, using weblogs as a tool to directly connect MS employees with users, Windows developers, and excitable nerds. Microsoft is going on a journey as it works on Vista, and its customers are being invited to tag along... ...This is business weblogging the way it should be done."(//end snip)

(thanks to Scoble for the link!)

Monday, October 3, 2005

Dusting off the weapons

The same scene appears in every bad action and/or kung-fu flick of the 70's and 80's:

The reluctant hero, long having since given up his fighting ways, pulls out an old dusty chest, opens it up to reveal his katana/pearl-handled pistols/nunchuks/etc. He follows a well practiced ritual of unfolding the velvet cloth protecting the weapons, and then leaps into a routine of practiced kung-fu moves/pistol drawing-n-holstering/etc.

Well, last night I took my guitars out of their cases, dug out my Line 6 Pod, Marshall amp, etc. And got them all hooked up.

Man, I'm really rusty, but it's time to work some axe-weilding back into the schedule.

[BTW, on a related note, it occurred to me that Sex Pixels would be a good name for a band today. You play off the whole Sex Pistols theme. The first album could be called The Sex Pixels: Never Mind The Artifacts]

WTF?!? with all this Sodoku nonsense! I can't walk into a bookstore or magazine stand without being socked by the sodoku!

Jeez, this is the "Macarena" of logic games.

Harvey Danger!

Local Seattle band Harvey Danger has released their entire album, "Little by Little", for free, on the web in MP3 format. Link.

If you like it, please contribute via their website and show the record industry that this can work!

Happy Birthday Oompa Loompas!

Thomas and Jennifer are two today. Yippee!

We had cake last night and presents yesterday morning.

(grain cellphone cam shots - no, they didn't each eat an entire cake!)

Rollin' VIP wit Hennesy

Contrats to Stephanie (a.k.a DJ Step1)!

Stephanie works at a small cell phone game developer in LA by day, and DJ's by night. She recently won a competition which got her a trip to France courtesey of Hennesy.

Anyhoo, congrats. Those of you into that scritchy-scratch music the kids are listening to these days should head over to her site and check out the samples.

Me, I'm going back to my Supersuckers CD a coworker loaned me.

Sunday, October 2, 2005

The $100 PC

A few people (1, 2, 3) have been posting once again about MIT prof Nicholas Negroponte's $100 PC project. The project has a noble goal: To develop a PC suitable for use in 3rd world countries, for educational use, for a price tag of $100.

The project is receiving praise ranging from pats on the back to (one would assume) outpourings of grant money. Not to mention press coverage. The story makes good press, that's for sure.

While I applaud the lofty goal, I feel like there are a few problems with his approach that no one is addressing. In addition, there are several less sexy alternatives that no one is discussing, and which I'd like to point out.


  • Maintenance and TCO: PC's (and other systems) are often referred to in terms of Total Cost of Ownership or TCO. This is a function of the cost of the system, the cost of deploying the system, and the cost of maintaining the system over the course of it's lifetime. Often, the cost of the system itself is insignificant in comparison with the other costs involved. In other words, the $100 PC is useless unless you also get it into someone's hands, set up their internet access/account/etc, and support them when their machine breaks down, gets a virus, etc. It would be nice to see how much or little these other costs would add to the "$100". [It'll sound very MS-ish of me to say, but Linux is quickly garnering a reputation in the IT community for having lower entry (free) cost but higher TCO. Just have a look at IBM's services biz to get an idea.]
  • One way to reduce - but not eliminate - TCO is to build fixed-function vs general purpose PC's. Not unlike what WebTV, game consoles, word processors, etc, have done for years. However, you only put off what may later becomes a bigger problem as a million devices become obsolete as needs grow.
  • Infrastructure: One of the proposed ideas for Negroponte's project is a hand-crank for when electricity is unavailable. However, the power infrastructure is only one of the needed infrastructure components. Communications infrastructure, server requirements, etc, need to also be figured into the cost. Another example is a service channel. Getting replacement parts, upgrades, etc, into the hands of people means a whole chain.
  • Corruption: We've seen plans where $0.50/day to feed a child resulted in aid that subsequently either didn't reach it's intended beficiaries or only a portion of it did, because varies levels of gov't corruption each took their piece. A realistic plan would take this into account.

Alternative approaches:

There are other (granted, less sexy) alternatives to consider

  • Shared resource PC's. The idea here is to let 10 people share a $1000 computer, rather than have 10 people each have a $100 computer. There are two forms this has already taken today with great success: Internet cafes (shared via rented time) are an example seen in many parts of the world; community PCs in places like remote parts of India are another example, where 1 PC is used by the community through a local service person/operator, for things like sending email, filing government forms, etc - teaching in a classroom could adopt a similar model. Both of these examples have their differences, but the point I'm trying to make with this one is that there are other models that work, and don't have to subscribe to the very western philosophy of personal property, This-is-MY-pc, etc.
  • Recycled PCs. This has been successful in parts of the western world, including the US, in programs to outfit inner city schools and such. Before you gasp at the image of handing over your 286 to someone and saying "good luck!"; keep in mind that falling hardware prices in general mean that the age of discarded equipment is dropping. Just look at cell phones, where often it's only one-year-old tech being discarded, and many would view it as sufficient for basic functionality. Same goes for here.
  • Cell phones: Blasphemous as it may be fore me to say, several have proposed taking your mid-range phone of today, and connecting a larger display and keyboard to it. (Perhaps with those being shared components at community terminals?) The phone of today is the PC of a few years ago. Maybe good enough for mail/web/wordproc/etc?

Anyhow, that's all I've time to comment on. I don't discount Negroponte's efforts, I just hope people look beyond the sexiness of the idea and consider the other issues and alternative solutions.

[Oh, and another thing that irked me about the project was the appearance of other MIT research tech (the display) appearing within there. Is this really the best solution, or is it some research lab politicking going on? Either way, the falloff curve they predict for that display tech is, well, very similar to other ivory tower falloff curves that were never realized. e.g. read anything on e-paper from 5-8 years ago. Was supposed to have replaced your new york times by now!)