Homecoming King

Posted in Life, Nerd, Random, Technology on December 30th, 2006 by Tom

It’s been too long. I’ve no excuse except that break’s got my schedule all crazy.
I hope everyone’s respective holiday went well. Mine did.

It’s been an interesting few days. I watched the remake of King Kong, which, while incredibly sad and tragic, was also unbelievably long (in a very nonessential type of way…). Peter Jackson was justified in the length of the Lord of the Rings films; there was content there! You could tell he was kind of grasping for more material from the 1933 version, because most of the excess length came from scenes where Kong was running… somewhere. I kid you not there’s a 5 minute shake down where Naomi Watts justs gets shaken senseless by the gorilla.

Aside from that, the ending still made me almost cry a little bit. It wasn’t like real crying, but more that “mouth open in shock” kind of reaction where just stare stupidly at the screen as the credits come up. I don’t know.

I also just finished reading a book Lizz got me for Christmas. I’m not going to say “It’s written very well,” because I’m not sure that’s exactly true. However it is written exactly like I’d write a book, if I could write a book. So I really enjoyed it. Except the plot of the book kind of dwindled at the end, which left me slightly unsatisfied, but on the whole quite pleased. I haven’t read a good book (that was previously un-read) in a long, long time.

I also went through with my threat to Microsoft on going MacTopPro on their asses. It felt good, sticking it to the man. Although the sweet, sweet, dashboard-inspired Vindication was not so justified, considering the price paid to procure said MacTopPro. In any case though, I’m getting used to OS X, and learning to install programs and such has been educational. I’m also working with an Open Source Office Suite, on the grounds that it does what MSOffice does for free, which is quite a boast.

Also for Christmas I got The 08th MS Team, which is an older (1996) anime of the fighting-robot genre. I daresay what I’m describing to you though is not as lame as you think. The really cool part about the series is that the fighting robots are more of a framing device, and not the focus. The series is really just 13 episodes of commentary on the horrors of war, which I can kind of dig (esp. given the method of delivery… giant robots). I saw this series for the first time in the 7th grade.

Junior High was a very formative period of my life. Many of the staples of my existence were made known to me at that time, and I’d spend the next five years pining/chasing/purchasing them. The 08th MS Team was one that kinda fell through the cracks though. So finally having all 13 episodes and watching them in a day or so was really an enlightening experience. They weren’t quite as poignant as I had remembered, but I doubt anything anyone remembers from the 7th grade is. All in all, I still enjoyed the show. I was halfway tempted to break out all my old action figures from the series.

But I realized what would happen. It get them out, set them up, equip them in cool poses with their weapons, and kinda sit there. It’s harder to play with action figures now that I’m old. When you’re young, you can make up any old stupid story and have the toys play it out. Now though, nothing seems very plausible. I’m too skeptical of my own skills to create fictions scenarios for my plastic toys to play out before me.

That’s depressing.

I’m desperately trying to hang on to what shreds of creativity I have left. There are few. Calculus II and Physics will do that to a guy. I tried to write something last night. Normally I come up with a cool story line, or an awesome scene that I want to happen, and just fill in the details or set of the rest of the plot to lead there. Instead I just started with the beginning. It went ok, but I quickly got the feeling it was going nowhere.

Lizz says I should write short stories instead of trying for novel/screenplay-length works of fiction. She’s probably right, but I feel like that could still be too long. I should write summaries of films or something… because past that I feel like I sort of fall apart. I don’t know. I’ll probably try again later on today, maybe after I watch ‘All the President’s Men’. That always gets me thinkin’ about weird plotlines.

So that was Christmas. I should backtrack and say that finals went OK. They must have, judging by my grades I got in the end. I’m still a little bemused by the math grade, but I’m in no real position to complain; suffice to say I’ll be heading back to Truman for another semester. This one however, will be lacking in Health, and Duathaloning. Taking their place will be German, and Chemistry. I don’t think that’s really a fair trade, but in the end it’s exchanging one ineptitude of mine for another, so who really cares.

I hear some people talking about how they can’t wait to get back to school. Anyone who thinks they like school better than home is either lying or stupid. The paradigm shift also entertains me. Kids who said they liked school better than home a year ago in high school got ridiculed for being nerds/dorks/teachers’ pets. Now it’s the cool thing to like school more than home. What happened? Oh. That’s right. Beer/Tail/Laundry/Parties/Alarms/Walking/TimeSuck. Items one, two and four have variable degrees of enticement. Three, five, six, and seven all seem to speak contrary to the “school > home” theory, especially if they’re available in ample supply where you live.

I don’t know. It’s not that I hate school, I just think it’s perverse and insane to suggest that it could be better than your home.

Maybe my aforementioned nostalgia-induced love of my home was only bolstered by the additional presence of Zelda. Sure, it’s just a video game, but it’s a video game that consumed the better part of my life from 2000-2004. No joke. In any case, ‘Twilight Princess’ came out days before I returned home (I’m declining to elaborate too much about the Handedness Controversy that was previously explained), and I dutifully ventured to gamestop and picked it up.

It preceded to envelope my life for the following 7 days (40 hours actual gameplay) until I beat it. I haven’t touched it since. It has a kind of binge/purge sound to it I suppose. I really, really enjoyed it though. It felt so awesome to be back in Hyrule, shooting arrows and throwing bombs and riding horses and such. I’m a sucker for the ‘hero against impossible odds’ genre.

I also got to see Ethan a lot these past couple of weeks, which has been nice. No one at Truman is quite to sharp-in-the-sense-that-you-could-get-cut as he is. Truman kids are sharp, to be sure, but none dangerously so as Struby is. We played Battlefronts 2 (I finally broke down and bought it) and glibly trash-talked ourselves, the Empire, the Rebels, girls, the government, and a myriad of other things I don’t recall at present. It was nice.

I’ll do my best to post more over break, but I figured I was entitled to a little reprive there at the end of the year. I did miss blogging though, so I don’t anticipate a break of this magnitude in the future. Assuming I still have interesting things to write about, which is something I live in constant fear of. In any case, I’ll continue to soldier on.

Obstacle 1

Posted in Firefox, Technology on December 8th, 2006 by Tom

I am so angry with Microsoft.
It’s been literally one thing after another.

Tonight I wanted to use the ‘helper CD’ that came with my calculus text book. I downloaded whatever crap software it wanted (it’s uninstalling right now), and opened the excessive little splash screen with silly sounds and graphics. Whatever. I click through and find the thing I want, and I go to actually see it, and it opens up in Firefox with an error.

This program was created to work as a proprietary with Internet Explorer! And of course I can’t just tell it to open in IE, I’ve got to change IE to the default browser so the stupid CD knows to use that instead of Firefox. It doesn’t work. So I restart… and I was so proud! Even though I’d gone and told IE to be my default internet application, Firefox refused to yield that spot. It just wouldn’t give it up.

So I say to hell with the CD. I’m now just trying make sure IE wouldn’t constantly be trying to unseat Firefox for top browser. I go in to the settings to turn off the ‘default’ option, and I see something… it says “Manage IE Add-Ons”. Excuse me?

What’s new in IE7? Tabbed Browsing. Excuse me?
What’s new in IE7? RSS Feeds. Excuse Me!?

That has gone too far. I can’t believe they’d be so barefaced. IE7 basically took everything that was good and pure about Firefox, all the reasons it was kicking the pants of IE6 (believe me, there were plenty) and STOLE THEM. Outright, it just copied them and stuck ’em in IE7.

Come on. They don’t even try and put their own spin on it. Now the only difference between the two is IE7 just looks like a bad skin of Firefox that runs slower. This is absolutely pathetic. I have a really hard time believing that Microsoft, with all the money it makes, can’t pay their developers enough to actually motivate them to innovate.

At least Apple has the courtesy to rename the things it copies. (Finder, Safari, etc.)

So I’m all steamed up and I’m going to let the Big M know how I feel. I pull up microsoft.com and start looking around for a feedback form. There aren’t many. At all.

I FINALLY find one. I click it, and get ready to rant;

“Use Windows Live ID to sign in to MSN Messenger, MSN Hotmail, MSN Music, and other sites and services! Windows Live ID works with Passport Network sites.
It’s free to access Windows Live ID. After you sign up and create credentials, you can sign in on any site that displays Microsoft Passport Network or Windows Live ID.”

Screw that.
I’m done, Microsoft.

I was on the fence for a few reasons as to whether or not I’d ask for a MacBook for Christmas. This sealed the deal. I’m going to get a Mac, and I’m going to enjoy it. I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again: Windows makes for a pretty amazing OS. I like it a lot. I’m comfortable with it, and I know all the ins-and-outs for the most part. In that vein, the Office Suite isn’t bad either.

But every other Microsoft product I’ve EVER used has sucked to a nearly incomprehensible degree. Microsoft: please stop making dumpy software. Feel free to start any time… no one will complain. I promise.

Sidenote to Apple: Stop calling them MacBooks. Call them ‘MacTops’ instead. I like the sound of it better, and it seems like something you’d buy at a convenience store in either A) the future, or B) 1986.

The Scientist

Posted in School on December 4th, 2006 by Tom

I got two packages in one week. One was a bunch of stuff I forgot at home over break ie: cellphone, meds, William Shatner CD… (thanks Mom!). The other was another Evangelion. Unit-03 is black and comes with an MP5, rocket launcher, and a big shield. He’s pretty cool.

We had a mammoth senate meeting tonight, probably because it was our last one. We got a lot of stuff done, and the Technology committee got renewed for another semester to give us more time to put together a review. This got me all galvanized to do senate stuff… and then I come home and have to do math.

Right now we’re doing ‘Taylor and Macluarin Series’. For more on this, I refer you [to Wikipedia].

That looks like one of those pages that I occasionally stumble across and kinda go… “What in the world?” No, seriously? How can that possibly be useful? What they do is represent functions as infinite series… which I think makes it easier for calculators to compute values of things like Sin, Cos, e, etc. I think.

Oh that’s right, I forgot to mention… I HATE THESE THINGS!
They drive me nuts. I’m finally starting to understand them a little, but the homework questions are so incredibly hard, and we never spend enough time to fully absorb and understand this information… I dunno what to do.

Except I do. I just did my best, and left it at that. Then I got all depressed that I’m going to be a crummy physicist because I’m not a very good mathematician. That wasn’t helped by the fact that I got all depressed earlier about being a crummy physicist because the concept of entropy boggles my mind, and I don’t feel that it’s been properly explained to me either.

What this all boils down to is I can’t decide if the teachers are lacking in skill, or if I’m just an idiot.
Oh well. Christmas is coming soon, which’ll give me a good excuse to not think about how bad I am at thinking.