I'm playing around with the DVD thing again at home.
It's just not working well. If I get the drive connected well, the software hangs. If the software is working well, the drive isn't ready of the DVD+RW is fubarred.
I need to figure a better way out to do this.
First of all, here's the big news: Audrey Diggs is walking! Yes, the stubborn one has made the leap to walking. Go check out the dramatic movie footage. Mrs. Diggs doesn't have perma links, so look for the Sunday, March 30 post. Woo hoo!
On Saturday, Len and Monique threw a huge Crawfish Boil party. There was over 150 pounds of crawfish.
For those that haven't been to a crawfish boil before, it's a ton of fun. Once the crawfish are dumped on the table, everyone rips them apart with their bare hands.
I took a bunch of pictures and made a quick slideshow.
Today was a recovery day from the party. Michele was on Day 5 of the Glendale Quilt Show and the girls needed a break. They played with the neighbor's kids and had fun in a wading pool. We had five ripe bananas, so I decided to make Banana Bread.
Mira helped me with mashing the bananas and eggs together. Here's the recipe.
Ali G DVD
I spent some time today trying to record episodes of the Ali G show into the computer. After several false starts, reading of manuals, and test recordings, I was finally able to get some decent work done. I ended up using the Ulead DVD Workshop program. It's got a 30 day trial, so I can see if it works for me before I buy it. The program costs a lot, but may be worth it if I can make a DVD of our home movies.
Once I get the process down, I think it will be easy to turn video into DVDs. There's a lot to learn about the technique, but the current tools make it simpler.
It treats weblogs like traded company stock based on linkage or something. I'm still checking it out. Go claim your blog and most importantly, link back to me that you found out about it here. (evil grin)
As of today, Cruft is worth $1402.26
Today the Kansas Jayhawks play the Arizone Lusers. I am very much hoping that Kansas wins. The Diggs are huge Kansas fans and winning would make them very happy. In addition, if Kansas wins, it gives me a very good shot at winning a NCAA tourney pool.
So please, dear Cruft readers, send your win mojo toward the Kansas players today.
Most people love bubbles. People love to give bubbles to kids. There isn't a birthday party in America when one of the goodie bag gifts is a small bottle of bubbles.
Everyone seems to think they are the greatest thing since sliced bread.
'Cept me. I hate them.
Bubbles are always a mess. Kids spill them everywhere. Cleaning up soap is pain, it just makes more soap. I have declared them an 'outside toy'.
Today, Mira walks up to me in the study with an open bottle of bubbles in her hands. She asks for a bubble wand. I tell her to take the bubbles outside and I'll get the wand for her. She says, "NO Daddy! I play with bubbles inside at school! I'll be careful." I again tell her to take them outside. She begins to get angry and yell, but I am firm in my insistance she go outside. She gets angrier.
Then she drops the full bottle of bubbles on the floor. It spills everywhere. She looks down, looks up and me, and says, "Sorry Daddy." and runs off.
Did I mention I hate bubbles?
Thank you Kansas! Thanks to the Jayhawks, I'm now in third place in my NCAA tournament challenge. If I win I get 11 DVDs... If Arizona loses, I'm pretty much golden...
Fun with DVDs
I've been playing around with DVD burners a bit. I borrowed a DVD+RW and made a couple DVDs. I was suprised to find that neither the PS2 or the Apex player could read the disc. The computer can read it, as well as a Sony player at work. I guess the compatibility stuff does matter.
Perhaps the DVD-R people are right. More research is needed.
This weekend is the Glendale Quilt Show. Michele is quite involved and has been working hard for weeks. She even got elected VP. The show is kicking into high gear and she left home this morning at 6:20AM. I'll be 'the mommy' according to Mira until the show ends on Sunday.
Michele tells me stories about the lack of organization and it actually makes my stomach upset. "No one ordered tables." "The women were up in their rooms sleeping when they should have been at registration." Ugh...
She didn't get home last night, so I missed the SoCal WUG meeting. There's always next month. That left me time to play...
Yes, I actually stayed awake and played the game. I got used to the basics of control and did a bit of ant killing. Of course, in short order, I died.
Soon enough I started leveling up a bit and grouped with Yoshi & Mocker. As a team, we racked up the exp & gold. By the end of the night I was level 5. Not bad.
OK, time to go get the kids ready for school.
I fell asleep on the couch last night reading the Shadowbane manual. That'll teach me...
In other news, my wife completely rocks. Her's what she brought home to me last night:
This is why I married her. She understands my needs...
I'm proud of my friend Alan who made his own cantenna and wardrove from his house. Good Job!
OK, time to get ready for work...
Here's my question: Why does customer service at store for geeks suck?
Today a new game, Shadowbane, was released. I saw an ad for it at Fry's in the newspaper. As expected, when I went to Fry's at lunch they acted like I was asking for the Easter Bunny. There were of no help. I stood there trying to call other stores looking for the game and none of the other stores even picked up the phone.
Almost every geek store you go to has terrible customer service. Radio Shack, Fry's, CompUSA, Best Buy, etc... They all suck.
Other kinds of stores usually have good customer service. Shoe stores, music stores, and even supermarkets have better service.
Why do stores for geeks suck so much?
The only good news is that Mister P. found a store that did have the game and bought me a copy. He rocks!
On another theme, I'm very proud of my eldest daughter, Zoe. For a while now she's been saving up money in a special box. Yesterday, I had to return the Gamecube game we rented to Blockbuster. She said she wanted to keep it. We discussed it a bit and she said she wanted to use her money to buy the game. She had savd up $31. I told here I'd cover the rest if it cost more.
We drove to the local Gamestop store and she walked in with her money in a clear box. Her eyes went wide when she saw all the games and systems inside. I saw my genes in action in her. She talked with the woman behind the counter and soon enough, Spyro - Enter the Dragonfly, was ours. I was so proud when she put her box of cash on the counter and said, there's $31 in there.
When we got home, she told me that saving money was good and that she had big plans when she saved up more...
There's more on my mind, but I'm going to go read the Shadowbane Manual instead... Later.
A couple days ago I made the trackback explanation because Anil & Dave were talking about it. I didn't think much about it. I mean, I have made dozens of pages about stuff from building a cantenna to how to BBQ on a charcoal starter and not many paid attention.
Evidently, I posted the link to the explanation in the right place. I checked my stats today and suddenly I've got a ton of hits.
Here's what my traffic looks like:
The last two days are a bit out of the ordinary to say the least.
I looked at the referrer logs and see tons of hits from assorted weblogs, boingboing, and several of the weblog stat sites: Daypop, popdex, and blogdex. It seems like once a link gets a little popular on a few weblogs, it can get very popular quickly.
People must be looking to see what's popular and as a result makes it more popular. It's a neat effect but the popularity is fleeting.
Perhaps I just hit a spot that needed clarity and people swarmed on it. I wonder what other concepts out there need more clarity?
Below are the photos I took at the LotR viewing. It seems Travis's buddies have begun to photochop them.
Here is my favorite by Mad Bushman:
Night folks. I got to present at an 8:30 AM meeting tomorrow with a bunch of heavy hitters in the company. Although it's not like I can go to sleep now. Michele's hogging the bathroom while she dyes her hair some color...
The prolific Trott's have taken the time to write up the canonical reference: A Beginner's Guide to TrackBack.
It does the topic much more justice than I did in my attempt to explain TrackBack simply.
Heaven help the blogging community if Ben & Mena ever decide to have kids. I can envision a nanny being paid for bloggers so that the Trotts have more time to work on MT. :)
I guess I could offer them free entrance to Disneyland...
First of all, I gave into desire and purchased a large number of Japanese iced coffees. I was driving by the Mitsui Japanese supermarket and felt the cans calling to me.
Hopefully these will last a while.
LotR:FotR discussion group
At the office, the group I work with are mainly geeky guys. We chat about computers as often as sports. When sci-fi and fantasy movies come out, it a topic of discussion and debate.
A couple of the guys are bonafide Tolkein geeks. They've read the Silmarillion and even the book of letters Tolkein wrote about his ideas. A few of the guys have never read the books and have only seen the movies.
After seeing the second movie, Michael "Mister P." Pajaro asked, "Why were there four hobbits? I thought there were only two."
At this point, a plot was hatched to teach Mister P. the finer points of Tolkein. The plan was to watch the extended DVD version of Fellowship of the Ring with Mister P. and stop the film whenever a point needed clarification. I had questions too and was invited to the discussion.
Travis volunteered his home as the location of the viewing. Kim, Travis's girlfriend, graciously allowed this to take place in the house and even let this map of Middle Earth be taped to the wall. I must say, the map made things a lot more clearer.
Travis and Brad prepared 26 sheets of information on the characters and places in the movie for Mister P. to peruse during the film. Quite a resource if I do say. They were quite nice with pictures and text.
Here you see Mister P. (center) listening to Travis (right) explain a detail. Look at the suspicion on his face.
After spending about five hours watching the movie, Brad was shown the beauty of the LotR video game on the X-Box.
Overall, it was a fun time. Watching movies with friends and agreeing to stop the movie and discuss points is a lot of fun. I can only imagine it is something like film school.
I wrote up a brief explanation, with pictures, about what TrackBack is and how you use it.
Let me know if you have more questions.
My good buddy Martin has undergone the unkindest cut. His story is all too familiar and true. I know from personal experience.
His weekend will consist of sitting on an ice pack and watching TV.
I had heard that people were encountering 'Live Chat' interactions where they had trouble determining if there was a person on the other end or a clever bot.
I had such an encounter tonight.
Please enjoy My Chat with Nathan Corbis
Last night instead of doing much productive, I ended up watching Dogtown & Z-Boys, a documentary about the early skateboarding scene in Santa Monica in the 70s. Amazing stuff. Lucky for the world, Craig Stecyk and Glen E. Friedman were there from the beginning with the Z-boys, armed with film and movie cameras to record everything. It's an impressive glimpse at the crew that brought the world everything we consider to be an Extreme Sport. It's on cable, so set your Tivo to snatch it up. It's also on DVD if you want to Netflix it.
After the movie, I got into my Nazi Killing groove. I understand some of you don't understand what I mean when I say that. There is a game called Battlefield 1942 in which you play the role of a WW2 soldier circa 1942. You can use a multitude of weapons, including tanks, artillery, and even aircraft.
Here's a picture:
Here you can see me about to execute a knife kill. In this type of game, getting close to the opponent and scoring a kill with a minimal weapon like the knife is a mark of skill.
Getting into the world of BF1942 makes me focus on the game and let's the other stress in my life fade in the background. Michele doesn't like the killing aspect of the game, but I find that it is a definite pressure relief for me.
In other news, some the people I met at SXSW have introduced me to Friendster. Friendster looks like it's orginally intended as a dating/match-making service but is being used now as way to keep track of friends and see the inter-relations between circles of friends.
I haven't spent alot of time examining the details or even writing about others yet (sorry Mike & Rannie), but it looks to have potential for fun. SO don't be suprised if you get a Friendster invite from me someday soon.
OK, time to get ready for work. I've got a thrilling 9AM kickoff meeting about Forecast & Planning Software. Woo hoo! Who needs coffee when you have a meeting like that?
Salon has an excellent article on Dani Bunten. Dani was the creator the best computer game I ever played, M.U.L.E. She also made Seven Cities of Gold, a revolutionary game for the time that was the forerunner for all the RTS games that followed.
It is truly sad that a woman that brought so much innovation to gaming was stuck by cancer just as the internet opened up a whole new world of gaming.
I feel like I'm at low tide of the day.
Usually I get up pretty energized in the morning. Today I'm not. My back is sore, sinuses hurt, and my body is pinging me regularly for caffiene.
Last night I went to bed at 10:15. That's about 3 hours early compared to my normal schedule. I think I am suffering from too-much-sleep syndrome. It's the only answer.
Four meetings today at the office. Joy.
There are plenty of things I'd like to be doing like sorting the pictures from SXSW, clearing up my desk, and going through my mail, but it will have to wait.
Hopefully the drive to work will wake me up a get me rolling for the day.
Have a good day.
I'm sitting on the couch with the laptop. Zoe is playing a game on the gamecube and Mira is playing with paper & scissors.
I'm feeling more together today than yesterday. Yesterday, my eyes were bothering me quite a bit and I had to take out my contacts. We went over to the Diggs for Audrey's 1st birthday party. It was one of the first time I've worn my glasses out in public in recent years.
Thanks to the Andersens, we had a bottle of Bushmill's Irish Whiskey to celebrate S. Patrick's day with group shots. Between the glasses giving me a headache, the 4 shots of whiskey and the slices of pizza, I was hardly the energetic life of the party.
After we got home and put the kids to bed, I tried to watch some TV. The rain was so intense that the signal from DirecTV was blocked. I went to bed to get some sleep, hoping that the signal would clear up later and Ali G would get Tivoed.
Today I'm feeling better and having fun with the girls. Michele is off to do some knitting thing somewhere. We are watching the Inspector Gadget 2 movie for the 5th time in four days.
We saw the President speak from the Azores. It looks like we will be at war soon. Nothing will convince him to wait on the attack. Everything is in place and ready to move out.
I predict that he will attack tomorrow. Probably around 3PM Pacific. That's 2 AM in Baghdad. They will launch the attack in the middle of the night.
I hope as few people as possible will die as a result. Unfortunately I fear that many, many people will die.
We need to remember this when it comes time to vote for President in another year. Our President is shredding the Constitution, ignoring America's problems, and going to war without the support of the American people or the rest of the world. We can do better than this. We need a President who believes in the values in our Constitution, not in the words of chickenhawks looking at the world as a game of Risk.
[Forgot to post this earlier. It was in Draft limbo....]
This panel is with Bruce Sterling & Derek Woodgate.
Open Spectrum - Sterling -> Coming on strong. Symptomatic of the social struggle between law & order and the multitudes. The people who are running the spectrum allocation are concerned. Motorola Canopy, a tower spewing radio over an area. (not sure of the point here) If wireless data people could get access to the good spectrum, they could do wonders.
Woodgate -> The tipping point is the car. Hard drives in the car standard in 2007. Satellite radio is dying. More work in the wide area.
Sterling asks 'Where's the business model?' There is no model. Death of ISPs & portals are a problem. Traditional media & business is clueless . 'How many times to these guys get punished?'
Round of applause about Americans reading other countries news to learn about what's happening in America.
There may permanently be no business model. Everything (news/information) may be free, but it may be incorrect/bad.
Woodgate -> Look at drivers. Entertainment is still a valid driver. Moeny will flow to entertainment. Money will also flow into security.
(running out of battery...)
Ubiquitous Computation - Sterling -> Example is traffic monitoring. In London put video cams in town to enforce the permitting. The problem is mission creep. If the 'security people' can use this system, it's a problem. Privacy suffers from so much technology.
Woodgate -> Positive aspects. The everywhere aspect and the invisible aspect. Wearable & wireless computing is coming. Materials Connection, some cool company. They travel the world looking for new physical materiels.
Technology needs to be invisible for people expect it to do something for them.
UviJunk - Embedded technology that does't work or is outdated, in things that are being used. Tech in a chair or room. What happens when you have an outdated intelligent car?
Open source in manufacturing - Sterling -> What happens when you can get foamed aluminum at Home Depot? What happens to GM is people can make their own cars? Would a $400 car wreck the car industry? What are we going to do when hackers can build 'stuff' and not just DVD ripping software.
Woodgate -> Yes, it is concerning. Community structures are place this will change. A break down of traditional centers, an increase of the connection between individuals. A different attitude toward work & play. People want more
(Out of batteries - sorry)
From: Congressman Adam B. Schiff [mailto:[spamhole]@mail.house.gov]
Sent: Friday, March 07, 2003 2:01 PM
Subject: Reply from Congressman Schiff
February 20, 2003
Mr. Michael A. Pusateri
Thank you for contacting me regarding some of your concerns about the internet and computer technology. I appreciate hearing from you and welcome your input.
The first issue you brought up was the regulation of unsolicited commercial email, commonly known as "spam." I share your thoughts that we should use technology to block unwanted emails from our computers. During the 107th Congress, Rep. Heather Wilson introduced H.R. 718, the Anti-Spamming Act of 2001. This bill would provide criminal penalties for intentionally transmitting 10 or more unsolicited commercial emails. During consideration of this bill in the House Judiciary Committee, on which I sit, I offered an amendment that would require the subject line of any email correspondence to include an "ADV:" - or advertisement notification. This amendment, however, was not approved by the committee. As the 107th Congress has come to a close, H.R. 718 must be reintroduced in the 108th Congress. Please be assured I will continue to work on this issue and look for other opportunities to stop unsolicited commercial emails.
You also mentioned your opposition to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) and your concerns about copyright and patent laws. As a member of the Judiciary Committee, I am currently working with my colleagues to examine ways in which we can ensure that intellectual property rights are protected, while at the same time encouraging consumers to take advantage of new technologies now available in the digital age. Please be assured that I will continue to monitor this issue, and I will keep your views in mind as related legislation is considered in the House.
Finally, you mentioned your opposition to the Total Information Awareness (TIA) program. As you may know, the goal of TIA is to develop technology that will identify the presence of terrorist networks, their plans, and potentially define opportunities for disrupting or eliminating the threats. I share your concerns about the broad implications of the TIA program. One of Congress' duties as we fight this war on terrorism is to ensure that our nation's enhanced security measures do not infringe on our Constitutional rights. Striking this careful balance will not always be easy, but we must preserve the civil liberties that are the hallmark of our great democracy. Currently, TIA is only a research program and has not been implemented. In addition, Congress acted this month to curtail or mandate strong Congressional oversight of the proposed program. Please be assured that I will certainly keep your views in mind should Congress consider any similar programs in the future.
An on-going job of a Representative in Congress is to help his or her constituents solve problems with federal agencies, access services, or get questions answered fairly and promptly. For this reason, I have designed a "Guide to Constituent Services" which details some of the help my office can provide to you as a constituent. Please know that you can always reach me at (626) 304-2727 or via the website atwww.house.gov/schiff which includes an electronic version of the guide.
Again, thank you for your input. If I can be of any additional assistance, please do not hesitate to contact me.
Test Entry - Please ignore.
I'll go over a few things I observed at SXSW. This was my first time attending and I was a complete outsider. Despite all my attempts to recruit a friend to go with me, I arrived in Austin alone and did not know a single person at the event. During the event, learned a ton, met a bunch of people and understood some of the etiquette. By next year, I will be an insider somewhat and my views will be tainted.
I’m going to use the term blogger interchangeably with SXSW attendee. It’s not completely accurate, but it’s a fairly reasonable compromise. One of the first things I noticed was about the net ‘celebrities’. In the realm of ‘blogging’ and the bleeding edge of internet community, there are people that have become celebrities. In some cases it’s due to their well-considered opinions, with some due to that they have created new things, and in some cases due to their persona. Initially I looked forward to meeting these people and getting a chance to shake their hands and discuss things with them. I’m an outgoing type of person that always asks a question in groups when it’s Q&A time. I am not shy. But not many bloggers are as extroverted as I am. Actually, most of them seem a bit shy to me. Once they get to know you they open up, but at first they keep their distance. It’s understandable. There are a lot of freaks on the internet and you never know who is and isn’t a freak when you meet them for the first time.
On the first day, I made a point to say hello to Ben & Mena Trott and Cory Doctorow. IMHO, both the Trott‘s and Cory have done extraordinary things that have made my life just a little bit better. They were polite and knew who I was from previous online interaction, but I could tell they were a little apprehensive.
With good reason.
Some guy that sent them a email once or twice was trying to grab a slice of them. They had good friends at SXSW and if the choice was between good friends and strangers, everyone is going to choose friends. I gave it a little thought and decided that I wasn‘t going to be as proactive as I usually am when I saw a ‘net celeb‘. If everyone at the show stopped these people just for 5 minutes to shake hands and chat with them, the ‘celebs‘ would never have a free moment. Their experience at SXSW would be endless polite but boring conversations with strangers. I wouldn‘t want people to do that to me, so people shouldn’t do it to them.
So, I started sitting quietly giving people around me their own space, even when I knew who they were and wanted to chat with them. For friends and family that know me, this is extremely un-Mike behavior. Amazingly, once I stopped trying to meet everyone, I started meeting everyone.
People will strike up conversations about anything at SXSW just to break down that initial barrier between strangers. Once the initial barrier was broken, the conversation flowed easily. I was surprised to find that some people knew who I was. Several times, people said ‘Hey, you‘re Argyle, the geocaching guy.‘ All, because I had posted on the sxswblog.com site about seeing if anyone want to go geocaching. People had taken the time to read the post, look up my picture, and remember me. Wow.
In one of the sessions, Cory Doctorow said ‘This is my tribe.‘ He meant that the people who attend SXSW Interactive are his kind of people. We may be scattered across the globe geographically, but in our world view we are quite similar. He‘s right. Those people are my tribe. The techno savvy, the web literate, those that add to the web instead of only browsing it, those that make cool new things, those that are willing to talk to strangers about wifi, and those that dream of the next gadget from Japan. The SXSW Tribe.
Here are my general observations about the SXSW Tribe. They don‘t apply to everyone, but they give you basic idea of the vibe:
The SXSW Tribe like Macs
The SXSW Tribe likes to cut their hair short
The SXSW Tribe don‘t like to go more than an hour offline
The SXSW Tribe likes to smoke
The SXSW Tribe doesn’t like the war in Iraq
The SXSW Tribe likes to travel in packs
The SXSW Tribe loves to gossip about the rest of the SXSW Tribe
Here a few things that I learned that may be useful to others that come to SXSW for the first time:
Shiner Bock - Shiner Bock is a local Texas beer that you find everywhere. Often referred to as simply ‘Shiner’.
ABC - Always Be Charging - If you bring a laptop, you need to be charging it every single chance you get. No battery lasts long enough.
Sharpeners - There are no pencil sharpeners at SXSW. People think writing on a pad of paper with a wooden pencil is a bit strange.
Secure connections - Wifi traffic is in the clear and people are sniffing packets all the time. Arrange for secure email, FTP, and if possible, secure browsing while at SXSW. It’s unlikely that a malicious hacker is gunna do bad things, but it’s best to be prepared.
Street Signs - For some reason, downtown Austin has few street signs. Get a map and study it before venturing out.
The Omni - The Omni hotel bar is a late night hangout for SXSW people.
Hotels - Stay at a hotel in easy walking distance of the convention center. You don ‘t want to drive anywhere after a long night of partying. The word was that the Hampton was the best place to stay due to proximity and internet access. But since the Hampton lacks a bar, there is debate if ‘The Hampton‘ is ‘the new Omni ‘.
Night Events - The best night events are the Fray Cafe, 20x2, and (so I’m told) Bruce Sterling ‘s party. Make time for these events.
Personal cards - Make up business cards with your name, email, and website info on them to hand out. Bring your regular business cards if you want, but what people really want is a card that ties you to your online persona so they can find you after SXSW.
Food - Eat food. Austin has a great bar scene. You will be drinking. Don‘t drink on an empty stomach.
Texas BBQ - IMHO, Texas BBQ pales in comparison to BBQ in other areas like Kansas City and Carolina. That chopped beef sandwich stuff just doesn't cut it...
Sound People - The people who run sound for the sessions won ‘t leave the sound alone. They love to walk up while people are speaking, twiddle with knobs, and make the room go silent.
Fray Cafe - If you are going to perform, practice beforehand.
‘Stop solving for the extreme case, solve for the middle‘ - Lawrence Lessig
‘I trust Rinso because there are a reasonable amount of spelling errors.‘ - Dave Weinerger
‘Because, you are wearing a Star Trek uniform because you want to get stared at...‘ - Cory Doctorow, answering the question, ‘Why do people in Star Trek uniforms get stared at?
‘We believe in the One Interface.‘ - Thomas Korte, Google
'UO, EQ & DaoC are not games, they are fucking chatrooms' - Warren Spector
‘If you can create this, you can fall in love with someone online and know they are a girl’ – John Halcyon Styn, in regard to FOAF discussions
‘Only 7% of American families consist of a father who works and a mother who stays home with the children.‘ - Richard Florida
‘This too shall pass ‘ - Bruce Sterling
People I met and chatted with (in no particular order):
Dave Weinberger - I helped him get connected, we shared a snack, and chatted off and on during the show. A great guy. While I had read the Cluetrain Manifesto before, I had no idea who he was until we'd been chatting a couple of hours.
Michael Alex Wasylik - Walked up to me and said, ‘I went to school with your brother.‘, at the Kick event. Mike was interesting and took the effort to include me in ‘the group ‘ until I got to know ‘the group ‘ myself. I owe him my thanks. He's the kind of attorney whose number you keep in your wallet 'just in case'.
Michael/Griff from ultramicroscopic - Poor guy won best weblog but got his bike stolen
Christine of bigpinkcookie - Queen of the Texas bloggers. Many thanks to Christine dragging me along as the crew wandered through Austin.
Katie - One of the first people I met part of the Texas Blog Mafia
Ernie the attorney - We started commiserating about the convention staff making unplug from the power outlets and began to discuss the issues. He and I agreed that the idealism is good, but people need to understand the reality of negotiation to find agreement in the middle. A nice guy to chat with, too bad he left on Saturday.
Jason Nolan - He and I chatted about stickers on laptops and the US centric internet.
Chip - Met Chip on the first night and although he's with EFF Austin, he didn't run me out of town on a rail because I work for Disney.
Don Turnbull - part of the EFF Austin crew
David Nunez - another part of the EFF Austin crew
Michael Buffington - We talked about cameras and getting to sessions on time.
Rannie - We kept bumping into each other and chatting during the weekend.
Ernie Hsiung - It appears that Ernie and my wife are related in the Hsiung family somehow. What a coincidence!
Alex Bischoff - We hung out at 20x2 and drank Shiners.
Leia Scofield - Met her in one of the many places I was with the Texas bloggers.
Rebecca Blood - Thanked her for her book and chatted briefly.
Dan Gilmor - We briefly discussed the impact of his breaking news of Pyra/Google deal.
There are tons of other people I met, but I wasn't taking notes every moment at SXSW.
Obviously, I had a great time. I've already decided to return again in 2004. Of course, next time, I intend to drag others along with me, so I never have to drive.
I left work early for Zoe's Parent-Teacher Conference. As expected, Zoe's doing great and Michele and I were all smiles.
I played with the girls a bit and checked work email from home. I think America's productivity would be greatly enhanced if one day a week, no business email was allowed. Work Wednesday - Get your work done instead of answering email!
I forgot to mention that I finished my latest book, The Dispossessed by Ursula Le Guin, on the flight to Austin. The book is from 1974 and reflects some of the thinking on un-capitalist societies.
The story revolves around a world with an anarchtic, non-authoritarian communist society. There are no laws or government, but there is also no concept of property or ownership. Everything is shared, everything is voluntary. A member of this society visits a pure capitalist world and contrasts the two systems.
I read this at the behest of my friend Len during a night of drinking a political discussion.
While some of the concepts are interesting, the basic idea that people can conquer jealous and need to create such a society, is difficult for me to believe. I think these things are hardwired into our brains. On the other hand, there are several notable concepts such as people be willing to sacrifice more when they are not forced to sacrifice.
I see why it's in the Sci-Fi canon of important books and won the Hugo and Nebula awards. It's quite a social commentary wrapped into a science fiction story. The vantage point is about as opposite as you can get from Heinlein's libertarian vision of the future as you can get.
It's worth the read if you get a chance. At 400 pages, it will keep you occupied for a bit.
Going from five days of uber-geekdom, drinking, and going out at night to sitting in my office reading emails about meetings to plan meetings is agony.
I wanna win the lottery.
Like I have for the past few days, I am sitting on the floor with the computer plugged into a wall, stealing power. The difference is that I'm in the Dallas Airport, connected via wifi through Wayport. For $6.95 I get access. My dinner cost more than that and I was done eating in five minutes.
After 5 days, SXSW is over for me. The music and film festivals are just kicking in now. The Interactive events are over. Unbeknownst to me, Bruce Sterling (the author, one of my FAVORITE authors) invites everyone who attends his session over to his house for beers. Due to my flight I couldn't go. I would absolutely love to go. But I can't change my flight for a party. Perhaps next year...
The SXSW has invigorated me. Work has been in the background and cool new things have been in my mind. I met a ton of people and I can barely remember half of them. I took a ton of notes and hopfully will have a full report soon.
I need to take a break from the computer now....
A few notes from the GDC Recap at SXSW.
Warren Spector & Rich Vogel speaking. Brad King moderating.
Sequels can hurt & help. Depends if developers listen to comments it can be great. Or it can suck if the same thing is done over.
Even difficult subjects, like Scooby Doo, can be good if the gameplay and concepts are good.
Costs are spiraling, sales haven't risen. Expectations are rising. Risk is escalating dramtically. They minimize risk by going with known quantities.
Online Gaming - What is the role of online games in consoles. Rich says that it will be the second gen consoles that will really enable it. Today it's a little to difficult for most people. The inclusion of a keyboards is essential.
Persistent World vs. small group gaming - There's a difference.
Disagreement over online games. Sims Online is an example of bad design, but not entirely. Warren & Rich disagree on why it's not successful. Warren says most people don't want to play online games to the degree hoped for. The audience is loud and excited, but it is small.
Warren wants next game to sell 5 million. Will there be enough hardware to run it? In consoles? Yes.
Mobile gaming - Lots of discussion at GDC. Phone games mainly used to kill time. Different in Japan where there is a phone gaming community. Discussed the failure of Majestic. Scary to regular people, not enough content.
"You won't see EA or Eidos or Microsoft making phones games. Other small developers will make them."
At GDC they discussed education. They talked about the role of games in education. In Star Wars Galaxies there will be connections to the game via phone, IM, web, etc. Many things to add access to the games.
The reason Warren hates online games is that they are not satisfying. He doesn't want interact online, he wants real world.
Rich says they are great because you can live in the alternate universe. You can do thngs you can't do in RL.
I just told Warren to play Neverwinter Nights.
I just thanked Rich for making Ultima Online.
Question about why dungeon master role hasn't come to gaming. The guy doesn't know about Neverwinter Nights.
At TSR in 1988, 15 million people ahd played D&D. Estimate 1/2 were gamemasters. 10% any good. How many could use a toolset 10%? 80,000 people worldwide? How many can make things and do a good thing?
The FPS mods are must simpler to create content/levels than roleplaying games.
Warren wants to find a way to provide episodic content. He wants to develop better methods of interaction with NPCs. The ability to interact with the AI needs to be more immersive. They both stress the importance of bots expressing emotion & mood.
The next step is probably from Valve. Halflife 2 will have very cool stuff. In Deus Ex Invisble War they have a new conversation system that will be reflected in the avatar. So will Star Wars Galaxies.
Warren speaks heresy and says framerate is not important. (OMFG. Burn him....)
There.com is a virtual world where emotions and expressions are well done.
Warren says UO, EQ & DaoC are "not games, they are fucking chatrooms".
The importance of good writers is key to games getting better. "Writers are writing code, not prose." Warren is finding programmers who can write. He doesn't want to teach writers how to code anymore.
Developers need to get two hit games under their belt and then they are allowed to experiment. Creative stuff that people don't get are hard to market.
They both seem focused on detail in the games. Things like limping in a football game are examples of good stuff. (I disagree completely)
Closing remarks - GDC this year had a theme this years. Lots of online discussion. Process of game development is an issue. Formalizing the design process. People may not like games like GTA3, but it is the best balanced game on the market. Online games allow balance and creation of new games. The GDC is getting better because it's more aobut gamign and less about technology.
End of session.
A note on Warren Spector: Warren has been described as arrogant and offensive. I didn't find that. He is clear in his opinions and firm in his stands. People may disagree with him (like me) but he's not mean to simply be mean. He is simply very open with his views. Many aren't comfortable with people that don't hide their thoughts.
I had three good days wearing my contacts here at the show. My eyes have been giving me trouble lately and they get sore if I wear the lenses too much.
After the 2 PM session, I had to go take out my right lens. I was hurting and it was distracting me. I went into the men's room and whipped out a bottle of saline and a lens case. Publically plucking a lens from my eye drew more than a few stares. Fuck it. It's only a contact lens.
So now I'm half blind. The right side of the world is a blur. Hopefully after a little rest and Muro 128 tonight and I'll being seeing fine tomorrow.
I'll make an attempt at live reporting via the weblog.
The session is a panel with Google talking about organizing the web.
Organize the world's information to make it universally accessible and useful.
Nice, broad, and ambitious. Gotta like that.
After describing in detail how Google manages indexes, he says, "Managing all that is a little on the tricky side." Understatement of the day.
Page Rank: A query independent measure of value for each page.
Linking to many pages lessens the 'value' of page rank that yor page has. The fewer links you have, the more emphasis on your links.
Designed on the concept that everyday machines are going to die. For scalability and reliability, they have 10s of thousands of machine constantly working. Considering consumer grade MTBF, they get plenty of failures and actually buy substandard RAM to save money.
Content-Targeted Advertising -Using the search words to choose appropriate advertisement to display that may be much more effective.
Google News - Auto-generated news from 4,500 news sources arranged in an unbiased, objective way.
Froogle - Aggregates products via page rank and relevance. Google makes no money from the products themselves, but they do advertise on the page.
Intro of Evan Williams of Pyra/Blogger/Google - "Blogger is now a Google product."
Lots of speculation and theories as to why the purchase happened. What is the secret plan of 'world domination'? No secret plan...
Blogger and Google Join
Blogger services remain unchanged
Building a better Blogger
Help people find blog content
Commitment to unbiased, objectve search results
"Google is one of the few web giants that values personal opinion."
What is desperately needed is enhanced ability to search blog content. Increasingly difficult to find intersting content. Google's expertise in searching is the key to help find the intersting content.
Reading the assumptions would make you think there are now hundreds of people working on 'Bloogle'. Not true. Same people, but the food's much better. A couple new guys. Still constrained by people inside Google. 'Never enough people, all the hardware they could imagine.'
After stablization of Blogger within Google, they can work on new ideas.
There is no interest to bias Google searches in favor of Blogger. They want to help the blogger community in general. They want to work with Radio, Movable Type, and other tools.
I just asked Evan, 'How much did you get?' He didn't answer and said 'Did I mention how good the food is?' I didn't expect that I'd get a number, but someone had to ask...
Metatags are problematic, since the page is telling the viewer one thing, and tells Google somethign else. For this reasons, Google doesn't use meta-tags.
Google Answers - This is not a highly public site for Google, but the usage and popularity is rising.
Google Toolbar - Future directions (asked by Anil Dash) - They may get around to a Mozilla client since Google people all use linux.
Wireless oppurtunity - They have WAP and low bandwidth services, but they are not utilized much. Pages are proxied to reduce non-mobile content.
Google has systems for local country results to allow graphics to be displayed correctly. Blogger would like to take advantage of the global reach to provide a higher service level.
Natural Language Search - Yes, they are thinking about it. They aren't clear that keyword searches alone won't suffice. Once voice interaction with computers is more common, they see the rise of natural language searches.
Semantic Web - Any plans? 'Nice idea, but not now.' They do it partially with Froogle, not in a concerted effort.
End of session. Whew.
I looked at this page and realized I had a bunch of "I'm doing this..." posts. Not a lot of analysis going on here.
I made an attempt to get up early and transcribe my handwritten notes to the weblog, but alas I have failed. It's about 25 mintues until the first session and I haven't started. Mea culpa.
So while I am currently content-free, now is the time for you to create some and post it on your weblog. Do It Now....
The Fray Cafe was a lot of fun. At the urging of Michael, I signed up for the open mic.
To heighten the butterflys in my stomach, I ended up getting on stage at the end of the night when everyone was tired. I told the story of Zoe's fever due to the cooties. The story was quick and I got a few laughs, but I'm not sure how well everyone liked it.
It's late, and I need to sleep.
I'm inside the Mercury on 6th street in Austin.
The Fray Cafe is just getting started and my laptop is being used as the light for the sign ups.
I guess It's spoken word for a few hours, we'll see won't we...
Keith at UnrelatedNews is the shizznit!
He's been making video weblogs. Go check out his first set here.
I desperately need a digital video camera. But then again, you all would be subjected to videos of me at IHOP rather than just text & pictures.
Google, you should check out cloud.com
I just got out of a session where they revealed cloud.com a method to coalese (sp?) content voluntarily. Intentionally building the sematic web.
Not much to read on the site, but in Slashdot form, I'm attempting to first post. :)
I'm sitting here in the Convention Center typing.
I haven't had time to write up much. When I got back to the hotel last night I was too tired to boot up the computer. Shocked I know, for me to betoo tired to get on the net. My broken toe is starting to take it's toll. It's been understanding with all the walking, but by the end of the evening last night, I found myself starting to limp a bit. I popped a few Advil and feel fine today.
I've got about 10 minutes until the first session, so there's no time to write up everything. I'll just tell you about the Kick game. Yesterday morning they had a Kickball game that I went too. Many people knew each other from previous years. I bumped into a guy that knew my brother, Matt, from Northwestern. Strange coincidence.
Kickball is basically softball, but instead of using a bat on a softball, you kick a large rubber ball. It was great fun.
Since I was unfamiliar with the game and have a broken toe, I didn't play and joined the cheerleader section. I met and talked with a number of cool people. BTW, the predominant name for SXSW attendees is Jessica & Michael. I have met 3 Jessicas and 4 other Michaels.
The converstation ranged all over. I spoke with Christine from Big Pink Cookie about the problems with blogging about work when your co-workers read your blog. Nice to know I'm not alone in the dilema.
After the kickball game, I went to lunch at IHOP. I had the Cheddar Turkey Melt. Mmmm.
5 minutes to session, gotta go.
I listened to Richard Stallman talk about copyright last night. It wasn't the usual Free Software talk, it was all about the place of Copyright in our society.
He made a few interesting points like comparing software code to cooking recipes. What would cooks think if they could not use or modify a recipe? Imagine a law against changing a recipe, or trying to figure out a recipe from tasting a prepared dish, or even disallowing you to give a copy of a recipe to a friend.
Sounds silly right? Currently, this is the case with computer software.
He also makes the valid point that all creative works cannot be treated the same way. A recipe is different that a novel and should be treated differently. Current copyright law makes all creative works behave the same way.
I don't agree with every conclusion that he draws, but he does make valid points that are hard to simply refute. The main arguement against many of his ideas is that they will 'break' existing business models. This is a difficult arguement to logically defend, but it is very easy to defend it with money and politicians.
Somethings got to give between P2P networks, DRM, Trustworthy/Treacherous Computing, and the DMCA. It's all getting caught up into a hairball and I think business is going to choke on it.
I think the question is "Will the old content creation giants be able to adapt before the marketplace adapts around them." Xerox had the personal computer and decided it would hurt copier sales and killed plans to move forward. Will Disney & Time Warner sell people what they want before they can easily get it for free?
After Stallman's speech I went to the Linux Top Gun at a night club. Basically several hacker groups try to hack each other. I drank a couple glasses of scotch, sniffed the ethernet packets flyign by and watched the strange interaction between those the there for the hacking event and the Film/Music people also in th ebar wondering what all the laptops were for.
Time for kickball.
I'm sitting the press room at SXSW sucking off free internet access. There's a couple other people here chatting about things.
One of the guys is David Weinberger who just wrote World of Ends page. Quite interesting. I revealed that I work for Disney and that sparked a few discussion.
Time to get a bit to eat before Stallman.
I'm currently in the lobby of SXSW in Austin, Texas.
After a bit of travel, I have arrived. For the flights I decided to not wear my contacts, since I would probably not be able to sleep with them on and my eyes would be worn out way too early. I wore my glasses. I don't wear my glasses in public much, mainly because I can't see well with them on. At home, I can watch TV, but I can't read words on the screen from even the couch.
Now I was traveling with this vision. You take for granted that you can read the signs and monitors at the airport. To read everything, I had to either squint up at it for a bit or ask some one to read it to me. Now, I'm an outgoing guy, and I don't mind talking to strangers, btu I could see what went through people's mind when I asked for help. They thought either I was really blind or I was slow and illiterate. In either case, I felt very strange. Not at all like the hardy traveler I picture myself.
On to Texas, a couple thoughts.
1) It's a much wider sky. Logically I know that the sky looks bigger because there are fewer buildings and trees, but it sure *feels* like a bigger sky.
2) Frontage Roads - These roads are designed to let the locals know who is from out of town since they see us making plenty of U-turns and pulling over to look at maps.
3) Construction - Austin is one big construction zone. Cranes, dust, red cones, and hard hats are everywhere....
OK, time to leav cyberspace and jack back into the real world. Later.
In 3 hours (at 4AM) the SUper SHuttle arrives to take me to the airport for my trip to SXSW.
I hope to update plenty while I'm there. In case I don't, you need to update your own blog. Yes, you.
Someone please buy me this WWII German ENIGMA cypher machine.
Thanks to my Delt brother Angleo for sending me the picture.
About 30 hours until I leave for SXSW. I have plenty to do, but unfortunately my energy level is low.
Rather than write more or do anything productive, I'm going to bed. Rest is good.
Good night. More content in the coming days...
I saw a link to a list of the 50 best Sci-Fi and Fantasy books of the last 50 years.
Quite a varied and interesting list. You should check it out.
I've read 24 of the 50. Michele's read 14 of the 50. Anyone have more than us?
You can view the list by clicking More... below.
One of the things I did this weekend was put up some new shelves over my desk.
I didn't trust the undersupports alone. I added the side braces as well for double security. We live in earthquake country don'tcha know....
Here's the completed shelving...
While I'm posting photos, I might as well show you a few of the boxes and boxes of Girl Scout cookies in the dining room.
Yes, we are part of the Girl Scout Mafia. Buy our damn cookies. Lots of them...
I have been told that several of you are uncomfortable with the dancing images below. What is wrong with you people? It's just my toe and picture my 4 year old daughter drew. You all have perverted minds. I think you watch too much network television.
It appears that the Reverse Cowgirl is Audblogging. It appears that she is quite the lightweight with an evening in NYC consisting of only 3 martinis. 3 Martinis are but a warm up...
Take a listen to her audblog. I mean, who can disagree with a woman who says "if I don't get a show about sex on TV, like, the terrorists win, this is just that important..."
So I'm at the Kings Hockey game with my wife and daughter, explaining the finer points of icing, checking and other fun stuff to the seven year old, when I catch wind of the conversation next to me. Two teenage boys are arguing...
Teenager #1: "Dude, I could so beat you with an AK."
Teenager #2: "Dude, I could so beat you with an AWP."
They are talking about Counter-strike.
Teenager #1: "Naw dude, you suck with the AWP."
Teenager #2: "I do not! I fucking rock."
Teenager #1: "No way dude, I could beat you with just the nine."
Teenager #2: "Hah, I could beat you with just the knife."
...and so on for 10 more minutes...
I consider blurting out the comments in my head, but I refrain. I will now blurt them out here.
Why are you playing fucking Counter-Strike? It's almost FIVE FUCKING YEARS OLD! It's the damn Quake 2 engine.
There are dozens of better team based games out there today. The Urban Terror mod for Q3A, Tribes 2, Return to Castle Wolfenstein, UT2K3, Battlefield 1942. Why are you playing crappy old CounterStrike?
Move on. Get a real game...
Lastly, three days untill SXSW
I've been a bit busy since Friday. I put up new shelves in the office, went to a Kings hockey game, replaced a power outlet, met the new neighbors, replaced a trashed geocache, played minature golf, and even managed to watch a little TV.
First, Mister P, created a new image from my broken toe photo. It's simliar to the animated drawing of Mira's that's on Michele's site. Behold.
I feel an entire genre of animated gifs coming.
In the words of Ali G, "Listen up peoples, I be tellin' ya what youz shou be watcin'"
There are four shows you must set your Tivo/VCR to record.
Da Ali G Show - Ali G comes from Britain with brilliant humor and hijinks.
Family Business - Finally, a reality TV show I like. The story of Adam Glasser, a successful pornographer better know as Seymore Butts.
The Wire - HBO is replaying the best series of 2002. Excellent acting & dialog make this show about drugs above and beyond anything else on TV.
Six Feet Under - With The Sopranos season over, this is the best soap opera on TV.
Get up from the computer NOW and go setup the recordings. NOW!
Trust me on this. These are the best shows on TV now. Toss in my personal favorites, Good Eats, Mail Call, Conquest, Chappele's Show, and The Daily Show, and you've got a plethora of entertainment choices. Strang ehow nothing good is on the big networks. CSI, West Wing are crap. Fox is crap since they canceled Firefly. It's all crap.
Time to go spend some time with the family. I'll post later if I get a chance.