Friday, March 30, 2007

Today I decided...

...that I would post in my blog.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

More ramblies! Yay!

Some fun things I found on the internet today:

Double Fine Productions' News page (there are some really hilarious entries in here - especially if you've played the excellent Psychonauts)
Double Fine Productions' Job Openings page (it gets pretty funny towards the end)
GrumpyGamer (Ron Gilbert's blog)

Ok, so after those two random but yet semi-related links, I present the following: Introspection. Today I realized that I haven't much talked about any of the peculiarities about myself that I have observed set me apart from how it seems other people act/think, but that may not be apparent from merely observing me. First, I would like to point out that I have obsessive-compulsive tendencies. It's not debilitating, I'm not Monk (in terms of level of condition or genius), and I've never suffered from it - but it does affect me. For example, I have a very strong (but not absolute) aversion to stepping on cracks in the sidewalk. Unless something is actively drawing my attention away from my footsteps, I will make significant effort to pace my stride in such a way as to look natural and avoid the cracks. If for some reason I become conscious that I'm doing this, I usually continue to do it while chuckling at my own silliness, but I have been known (even today) to consciously step on a crack. I've heard of my mother's back suffering no ill effects.

I count steps. Usually in multiples of four or twelve. If the bell tower is chiming, I count the number of steps I take between tolls - I try to time my steps so that I have exactly ten. There's nothing special about ten except that it's the number of steps I naturally take in that period, I simply attempt to adjust the cadence of my footsteps so that the tenth step falls exactly at the time of the bell. When counting my steps in multiples of four or twelve, I'm simply counting to myself "one, two, three, four, one, two, three, four" over and over. Rarely do I keep track of how many times I count to four or twelve. Also, I count the number of steps in a flight of stairs. I am annoyed to no end when confronted with sequential flights of stairs which do not have the same number of steps - ESPECIALLY when the difference is an even number (usually 2). Why didn't the designer simply move one step from the flight with more stairs to the flight with fewer? Then they'd have the same number of steps. Then I could count to the same number both times. *sigh* Some things I may never know.

I cannot wear long sleeves without wearing long pants. It makes me feel top-heavy. Of course, this rarely is a problem because I am rarely without long pants (and when I am, there's probably no good reason to have long sleeves on), but still it's something that I have noticed. A friend of mine (some of you know him as Uthalinus, others perhaps as Jerm) used to regularly wear shorts with a sweatshirt. I would boggle at that because I could not under any circumstance imagine voluntarily choosing that outfit for myself. Clothing has a hierarchy - shirts are dependent upon shorts or pants (it is improper to don one's shirt before one's shorts or pants), long sleeves are dependent upon long pants, and also: long sleeves should not ever be worn unless there is a short-sleeved shirt underneath. You will rarely find me breaking any of these conventions.

And, in case you're curious for any reason - I won't be found existing in the state of shorts or pants without a shirt. That is simply a temporary state that I go through when getting dressed or undressed (the shirt comes on first, goes off last). Some may prescribe these things to "habit" - but I consider it to be stronger than habit. "Habit" is which sock I put on first. I actually don't know which one I put on first. I probably put one on first more often than the other (probably by a significant amount), but I don't know which one it is. If I were conscious of the order I normally do it in and reversed it, it wouldn't seem odd to me at all. That is not at all how these other things feel - there is something in my mind that compels me to obey these very arbitrary principles. I can break it if I choose to do so, but I rarely do because I rarely have any non-arbitrary reason to do so and I am overly conscious of being in violation of my own arbitrary rules - and that distracts me from whatever it is that I'm trying to do with my life at any given moment.

So...there you have it. Paragraphs of my personal quirks. Enjoy.

It's Wednesday! Questions!

Discuss a short moment in childhood where you learned something important about life?
Honestly? I can't think of any particular "something important" that I learned at some point in my childhood. Perhaps it was when I started working a regular job at 13 (learning the importance of keeping a regular schedule, keeping the boss happy, etc.) - but since my boss was my mother, I don't know that starting the job really taught me anything new in those realms. I'm sure I learned new cool important stuff, but nothing specific comes to mind.

What was the most special present you ever received at Christmas before age 7 or 8?
Well...honestly...I can't think of a single present that I got at Christmas before age 7 or 8. I got a Nintendo somewhere in there, but I can hardly classify it as "most special." It was more of a "big, cool, memorable" present. Around age 10ish I was given Day of the Tentacle for Christmas. I still play that game today. That's my first SCUMM game and it started my obsession with collecting LucasArts adventures. Searching for these Wikipedia links led me to this WoW guild run by Ron Gilbert - co-creator of Day of the Tentacle and the first two Monkey Island games. I was highly amused. Ok, I'll stop linking now. Unless the page actually needs a link.

So yeah - the present that's had the biggest impact on my life from that timeframe would probably have to be Day of the Tentacle.

When your phone rings, aside from the obvious, what do you do? (Eager for incoming calls, not so eager...?)
Nothing too specific - I answer it. I suppose that's the obvious. If I'm asleep (which is often the case), I wake up and do my best to sound like I've been awake all along. I'm actually pretty good at it. Try it some time - any time of the day or night give me a call. Odds are that if I was asleep, you won't know it. Of course, thanks to my highly odd sleep may have trouble finding a time when I'm actually asleep to call.
And - referencing my earlier post - I virtually always assume that it's 'her' on the other end of the line.

Wednesday, March 28

March 28th! The 28th has always been a special day to me - and by "always" I mean since December 28th, 2003. "Why?" you ask? I'm sure there's a perfectly logical explanation to the existence of your question, but said explanation isn't coming to me. Perhaps you're merely insane to have to have such matters of triviality explained to you. Are you not telepathic? Do you not understand the reason behind the firing of the synapses in my brain? Can you honestly tell me that you don't even have a guess as to the meaning of today's importance?

Well, then I'll tell you. It has to do with 'her.' Who is 'her?' Some of you know, others may not. It's probably safe to say that everybody I know who is reading this blog knows who 'her' is, so only those who are reading this blog without my knowledge don't. Well, that's fine. If I don't know who you are, you don't need to know who 'her' is.

Some days, I think that I decided to revitalize this blog in the hopes that 'her' would find it and get some glimpse into my life. I doubt that'll ever happen since I never told 'her' about its existence and I don't expect 'her' to just go randomly searching the internet for me. 'Her' isn't the sort to do that, you see. But if ever 'her' does and 'her' finds this blog, I hope that 'her' knows I still remember the 28th.

As distant in time and space as that moment is from me, I still remember the night sky; the hours spent sitting on the trunk of my car and talking; the words that were spoken which changed the course of my life forever.

'Her' is still out there...somewhere. 'Her' still haunts my dreams (though not in an unwelcome way) and lives on in my memories. I don't know if I wish that I knew how to let go or that I knew how to hold on forever. At the moment, I'm pretty sure that I'm capable of neither but desire one. I just don't know which one I desire. 'Her,' if you're out there......well, you know how to chalk your initials on the rocks. I'll see them.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

And in other news...

The sun is back out again. For some reason the clouds just decided to drop about 14" of rain in about 2 hours. Now it's all back to sunny humid normality. And there's nothing like the shock of going from 85 degrees outside (where it's reasonably comfortable) to 70 degrees air conditioned inside (where I shiver while wearing a sweatshirt).

Can I say more about this culture/clime?

The forecast today:

*sigh* You see that icon there on the left? Yeah - I despise it when that icon applies to a region that I'm currently living in. As you may imagine - I am currently living in a region which is covered by a forecast containing that icon. Today's weather has managed to successfully live up to the forecast and I'm currently soaked from a quick run from Heath-Hardwick Hall to Thomas Hall (my dorm). That's about a 30 second run.

*sigh* I despise water falling from sky. Under all circumstances. Water should exist in lakes, rivers, and oceans. It is not proper to have it fall from the sky. If it is necessary for some sort of ecological process or stability, then the rain should fall at a time when I won't be outside. That's only like...95% of my lifetime, how hard is that?

Yeah...I'm still not a fan of East Texas. Everything's bigger in this state - including the weather's mood swings.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Mmmmm, tech support.

Ok, someone sent me this. I was highly amused. It's got subtitles, but you really should watch it. Sometimes this is what the tech support guy actually feels like.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Flipping through my CD case the other day...

I found this.

Here's the description that I included when I posted it on YouTube:

This is an animation I once made to help me learn a dance. The blue cylinders are the guys, the pink/purple ones are the girls. When they stand in place and bounce, that's known as "setting." The rest of the movements are done (as you can imagine) with stylized feet movements. All of that stuff was easy for me to handle, the hard part was knowing where to go and when - so I modeled it with Bryce so that I could study it at my leisure to learn the movements. The music is actually for Pinewoods Reel, but they're both 8x32 reels, so it all works.

Anybody curious about my bandwidth?

Here's the latest statistics which count almost everything to date but this post here. That day with the gargantuan spike up to nearly 3 gigs? That's right after I told the school to raise my limit to 10 gigs. Bye-bye, $50.

Because today is like Wednesday...sorta...

Do you own a wall calendar?
Yes, I do. In fact, I own several. I have several Star Wars themed calendars, a Beatles calendar, and probably several others. I doubt I've taken any of them out of their shrink-wrap. I just like to have them for some reason. I also have several daily calendars (of the tear-off variety). I don't use any of those either. I'm rapidly approaching the point where I have a calendar for all 14 "types" of year. (One where January 1st is on Sunday, Monday, etc. - and then one each of those that's a leap year). It's doubtful that I'll ever actually use any of them.

Is there a cuisine that you have not tried, but want to?
I don't think so. I'm not one who actively seeks variety. If there's something I haven't tried (cuisine-wise especially), then odds are that I'm going to be quite happy letting it pass me by if the opportunity arises to sample it.

Weirdest thing you enjoy eating (what most people you know do not eat or enjoy)?
Well, this one's a bit weird. Eh, I guess that's no surprise to anybody reading this. It's also related to my previous answer. Every week after service, my church back home gets together at a house (usually my parents' house because we've got all kinds of room for stuff and kids and things) and has a potluck lunch. Something that my father and I just noticed recently is that my mother has about...15? 20? Some reasonably small number of dishes that she makes for our meals and very very rarely do any get added to that number. For this, my father and I are very thankful. (Eating at my aunt's house can be an adventure because she just...invents foods out of the ether and that's just weird.) Anyway, because of this, I'm used to a reasonably small number of "safe" foods. When potluck happens every week, I'm exposed to this table full of all sorts of things from people that (I'm assured) are quite good cooks. However, their food doesn't look particularly safe to me most of the time - so I tend to go for the safer foods. This leads to a trend where I eat things that are:
  1. white or yellow (for some reason, white foods are almost always safe. Mashed potatoes, corn chips, corn, cornbread, burritos, dumplings, rice, macaroni & cheese, etc.)
  2. simply composed of meat (like a slice of ham or a Salisbury steak patty - not a casserole or a stew)
Because most people tend to ignore the meat (or because I usually eat it first), I get tagged as always eating white/yellow foods. This is because people don't see me eating the (usually) safe foods that we have at family meals where a broader spectrum is utilized.

Anyway, one year somebody decided to really play up this joke for all it was my school hosted a lunch for my 17th birthday party. The theme was white & yellow. All foods, decorations, and most people's clothing was following that color scheme.

I've gotta say - it was one of the safest meals I've ever eaten.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

I can't believe...

I read the whole thing.

It finally finished

Yay, I finally finished the scan that I've tried and failed to let complete since way back in this post here. That's the good news. The bad news is that the file I wanted it to recover didn't seem to exist. *sigh*

Oh well, I guess it's a good thing that I didn't have anything truly important on my Linux partition. Just a few chat logs, some personal programming projects, and my hard-earned progress in getting Ubuntu Linux to recognize my 2 monitors. I suppose I'll survive.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Something I just remembered recently...

I like to listen to things while I drive. Music is good, but when I'm on a long car trip, what helps keep me stimulated is a conversation. Usually when I'm making a long car trip, though, I'm either alone or the other person/people in the car are sleeping. They tend to make poor conversationalists. So, I make do with talk radio, it's the next best thing. Back home I nearly always have access to a great talk-radio station: KFI AM 640 (More Stimulating Talk Radio). Recently (like..4 years ago) they started broadcasting their shows over the internet allowing me to listen any time I'm at a computer that's connected to a decent internet connection. (That doesn't include my connection from school).

Anyway, last week and this week I found myself alone in a car driving from or to Dallas respectively. That's about 2 hours of time - perfect to cram in a podcasted radio show. So I pulled up the most interesting one I knew of and dropped it on the iPod. It's seems wrong in so many ways...and the first reaction I get from most people that I tell about it is something along the lines of, "Are you serious?"

Anyway, the premise of the show is that it's hosted by Jesus. It's strange that a secular radio station known mostly for having idiot (though entertaining) hosts whose major vocations are standing outside the governor's office and yelling at him with a megaphone (I'm talking about you, John & Ken) would produce a show like this...and it's even stranger that it's actually taken seriously by many Christians. What it is not is religiously fluffy, obtuse, or impractical. What it is is down to earth, realistic, practical, and tasteful. It's the Jesus Christ show on KFI (6am to 9am on Sunday mornings Pacific time), and it's also available via podcast. I have modified the KFI Sunday podcast to only list the Jesus Christ shows. The link is on the right. I'll try to keep that file updated, though sometimes I may forget.

But back to the show itself, it's a 3 hour segment of time (which works out to just under 2 hours of actual show-time thanks to commercials) where callers can ask Jesus (okay, it's actually just an ordinary guy who is playing the role of Jesus) any question at all. Some of the callers are Christians wanting some insight into a theological issue. Some of the callers aren't Christian but would like to know what Jesus actually thinks about something.

Is the host perfect? Of course not. If you talked to him outside the context of the show I'm certain that he'd agree with that statement. Within the show, though, he never breaks character, is always portraying the role of a loving God trying to help his children make sense of the world they're in. If you find yourself looking for a way to kill a couple of hours and you could stand to listen to some talk-radio, I'd heartily recommend listening to this. No matter what, everything he has to say is quite reasonable, logical, sensible, and practical.

For those unfamiliar with the concept of a Podcast, know that it's simply an RSS feed that contains at its essence a series of links to MP3 files that you can download. The name stems from the fact that it integrates easily with the iPod, but you certainly don't need one to listen to them. If you like to use iTunes, you can easily use that to retrieve podcasts by copying the URL for the Podcast to the clipboard, then in iTunes go to Advanced->Subscribe to Podcast. Just paste the URL there and it'll download the files, keep track of your place listening to them, and keep track of which ones you've already listened to for you.

Alternatively, you can use just about any other RSS reader. For example, if you use Firefox 2 (or later), it includes the concept of a "Live Bookmark" built in. Just clicking on the link will prompt you to create a Live Bookmark which you can then use in your Bookmarks section like any ordinary bookmark folder. The difference is that the Live Bookmark will automatically update itself as the file you used to subscribe to it is updated. In other words, new content will automatically be added. The biggest downside to this feature (in my mind, at least) is that it doesn't keep track of which ones you've already read/listened to.

Finally, I would like to report my progress on my Mountain Dew can structure thing. You can view said progress here.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

If I could only have one accomplishment this semester....

Then it may as well be the construction of this monument.


I have to say...I miss home. Just look at the differences here!

I think I've changed my mind....

Yeah - I think I'm going to give up again on having a dual-boot system with Linux. I'll just go with the cheap way out and run a Linux VM.

For those of you who use Norton Ghost

I backed up a drive with Ghost 2003. I told it to save the disk to an image. I had it overwrite an image that was already present (I save my disk backups to a removable hard drive). I did this so that I could wipe that partition clean and install Windows Vista to try it out for real instead of using it in this silly little VM. (FYI, Vista in a VM is pretty pathetic. Vista running natively isn't a whole lot better - I'm sticking with XP until at LEAST Service Pack 1.) Anyway, Ghost running in real-mode PC-DOS should have overwritten the ghost file on that drive and I'd have a backup of my Linux drive that I could then wipe to install Vista on.

Well, Ghost likes to break backups into 2 gig chunks when storing on NTFS partitions. It may break them into different-sized chunks on different types of partitions, but on this particular NTFS partition, it uses 2 gig chunks. The first one is "whatever.gho" and then the following files are "whatever001.ghs" "whatever002.ghs" etc. I had a file "40gig.gho" that I wanted it to overwrite. There were no 40gigxxx.ghs files in the directory, just the single .gho file.

Now there is 40gig001.ghs and there is no 40gig.gho. I think that when it overwrites an image file, it doesn't properly register the presence of the new file.

Anyway, I'm now running a low-level cluster-by-cluster scan of a 500 gigabyte hard drive to locate a 2 gigabyte file. This scan started 5 hours ago. It'll probably be finished sometime Tuesday.

Moral of the story: if you're going to have Ghost overwrite an image file, just delete the image file yourself first in Windows and tell Ghost to create a new one.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Notes for Spring Break...

This being my third Spring Break associated with LeTourneau University (though only the second that I'm staying on campus), you'd think that I'd learn a thing or two about the way things happen here. Firstly - the hours for many things (like the library where I can go to get free Microsoft software because I'm in the Computer Science department) are reduced. That's to be expected of course, but I forgot how drastic it is. For instance, the library is closed all weekend. I was expecting to drop in there today to pick up some software (Vista, baby!) and get it up and running over the weekend. Alas, I can't do that until 8am on Monday. It would have been nice to check this YESTERDAY so that I could have checked the software out then. Oh well.

The other thing that you'd think that I'd remember is that....there is nowhere to get food on-campus from today (Saturday) until Sunday or Monday (I forget which). I found this out today as I migrated to the dining hall at 11:45am for lunch and found it shut tight. *sigh*

Thank God for Taco Bell and for nice former roommates who fly home leaving you with their car.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Because I felt the need for a project...

Whenever I find myself wanting to procrastinate, I come up with a project. Something that feels important but really isn't. My current project is taking Warcraft 3, filming a run-through of the entire game (I picked up Fraps the other day), then encoding YouTube-quality videos that show all the important in-game scenes with the unimportant in-game game-stuff being sped through at 5x normal speed (with cheats enabled too, so it goes really fast).

Thoughts? Comments? Suggestions?

Currently I'm using AVISynth to do all of the editing/splicing/whatevering, and I'm using the ever-handy XVid to encode the videos. My final output resolution is currently 512x384, but that may change as I get a better feel for how much video this is actually going to encompass. As of right now, I have the first 4 missions done.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

By "popular" request...

I've had a few questions from my readers that they must know the answers to! In a blatant effort to artificially inflate my post count, I'll be responding to these over the course of several posts. Maybe I'll make this a regular Wednesday thing! I need to put that label to use, after all.

Have you ever tried to roller skate?
Why yes, I have. I haven't just tried, but I'm actually halfway decent at it, or at least I was the last time I tried. The roads at home don't particularly lend themselves to roller skating (they're paved with this nasty jagged rock substance that kills your knees - either as shock absorbers or if you fall), but I've had the opportunity to go to several roller-skating rinks over the years. The last time I was on skates, I even managed to teach myself to successfully skate backwards! I am proficient on skates and on Rollerblades® (I still own a pair), but I definitely prefer the flexibility of the in-line skates to the traditional style.

What is one thing you wish you could do with your hair?
Convince it to stop growing and to stay where I tell it. I like the hairstyle I have, I've had it since I was 16 (I adopted it in August of 1999) and it's suited me well.

What are 5 things that you think everyone should do before they die?
  1. I think everyone should come face-to-face with the truth of Christianity and make an informed, intelligent decision to accept it as the supreme absolute truth in the universe or reject it as absolutely false, a delusional fairy tale. They must realize that there is no middle-ground. My preference is, of course, that they decide to adopt it for themselves, but I have faith that everyone who is confronted with the truth (and not some bastardization of it) will make the correct choice.
  2. I think everyone should work a job in customer service, retail sales, foodservice, or a related low-wage job emphasizing customer interaction where the customer will often treat you as a cog in the great machine. Everyone needs to learn to accept this treatment but rise above it to prove their worth to the company, their usefulness to the customer, and that their common position does not make them into a common person.
  3. Find a cause whose goals you support (not one that convinces you to support it or a cause that found you) and wholeheartedly work to bring its goals to fruition. Never commit to the group unconditionally, but always be aware of the goals of the group and support them while their goals and yours are aligned.
  4. Attend a concert to realize how much better the real thing is than a recording.
  5. Learn the differences between "you're" and "your;" "their," "they're," and "there;" and "it's" and "its."

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

That was Friday and this is Tuesday...

Ok, so this weekend I finally played through the expansion to Warcraft 3. It's only...just under 4 years old. I only pre-ordered the Collectors' Edition of Warcraft 3 and played through it in 3 days (and loved it) and then waited for 3 years after the release of the expansion to buy it and several more months to play it. I don't make cents. I'm not a mint. If I were a mint, I'd make scents. What's that? Suddenly this all stopped making sense? Maybe sleep isn't as overrated as some say it is.

Anyway, I give props to Blizzard for making a most intriguing expansion to an excellent game. Warcraft 3 was a good, solid single-player RTS (though I never really got much into multiplayer), and the expansion added all sorts of interesting twists.

Friday, March 02, 2007

In keeping with tradition....

I figured I'd throw another random blabby post up because I can. I've been told that I do it well. And at least one reader has complained that it's what my blog consists of - quantity over quality. I'd hate to change just because one reader complains, though, so I'm just going to use his bandwidth to host...

My first-ever Warcraft 3 victory replay file!

Requires: War3 1.21 w/Expansion

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Is it worth it?

The cutting edge. So many computer-savvy people like to stay on the cutting (or bleeding) edge of the technology, and thanks to the worldwide communication infrastructure that is the internet, advancements are made continually. It seems like there's a new Linux kernel released every couple of weeks and I have this pathological need to install it in my system.

You know the old adage - if it ain't broke don't fix it. Well, there's nothing particularly broken about my Linux install. Linux lacks the spitshine polish that Microsoft's OS has (not to mention the commercial software support), but it's really nice for certain things. Like software development. I like to fiddle with an OpenGL 3D engine that I wrote for Linux because it's a lot easier to fiddle with it here than it is to fiddle with it in Windows. But I must question my need to continually download and install the latest "Vanilla" Linux kernel (so-called because it hasn't been modified, patched, hacked, or tweaked for use in any particular "distro").

Now, as my kernel compilation finalizes, I ask myself, "Why do you have to keep installing a new kernel even though you don't really need any of the changes that it implements?"

To that I don't know that I have a good answer. Be right back, it's time to reboot.