Sunday, December 31, 2006

Oshogatsu greetings...

Just wishing everyone a happy new year, and a very geeky Otakushogatsu.

Here's my card.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Finally I write a post about something other than Richie's health...

Ever since Wednesday night I've basically been living through a husband Richie is in the hospital and nobody exactly knows what's going on. They are testing and testing and so far nothing conclusive.

However, you try to find the good whenever and wherever you can. And this is good.

I finally have the MacBook where I want it. 2GB of RAM. It does make a difference. 1GB is great, but 2GB is better. Way better. Richie was able to get some nap time in as I took the boxed Micron RAM to the Apple Store in Northridge to get it put in. Yeah, I know I could have done this myself...but what if I screwed it up? It's considered a "DIY" fix, but still...Apple gets kind of funky when home-done repairs go wrong.

Anyway, maxing the RAM on a MacBook makes it...MIGHTY. Things tend to move fast, even when Rosetta is involved. w00t.

I want to experiment with Parallels now. However, I have more important priorities to think about, so those experiments will probably be tabled for a while. Richie's health, and the next semester at school, have to take priority, in that order. Geeking around must be third on the list at best.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Main screen turn on...It's YOU!!!

I know not everyone is happy about this, but dammit, I think Time made an excellent choice when they chose John and Jane Q. Internet User as Person of the Year.

Yeah, in a perfect world Dr. Howard Dean should have got it for winning most of the US back into the Blue column with his "50 State Strategy." But in a perfect world Ah-nuld der Gropenfuhrer would be on his way back to Fucking Austria and we'd be preparing for the inaugural of Governor Phil Angelides. Or maybe the inaugural of Governor Warren Beatty because maybe only a movie star could dislodge another movie star from the California State House. OK, at least we have Secretary of State Elect Debra Bowen to celebrate. Time to throw those Diebold DRE machines into the same shredder they used to turn the EV-1 into metallic mincemeat.

Anyway, just when it looked like Big Media and Big Telecom was going to turn the current Internet into a frontage road for their super toll road, in rides the Googleplex to bring the democracy back to the Internet. Maybe they don't do 100% of a good job "doing no evil" but still they do a hell of a lot of good for a company that's gotten so big so quick. And it's not just the Googleplex. AOL is beginning to look like they ain't so bad now that they've almost given up the ghost on their stand alone system and joined the Free Generation. I've parlayed my AIM account into 5GB of encrypted storage for my stuffs that might have gotten lost in a disk crash. That came in handy. And it was free.

Yeah, probably Web 2.0 is going to bust up just like v1.0 did in 2000. This time I don't have a dog in the fight like I did when I was working for Onyx Networks in their quest to become the UUNet of the Pacific Rim. I'm just going to watch and enjoy it while it lasts, then hope that I'm not taken down in the undertow in some indirect way.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

One the course I wasn't expecting to get one...

I'm now finding out what my likely grades are for this semester...well at least on one class, anyway.

Would you believe...STATS 1????!?!????

SPSS test went off with no hitches, the "statistics concepts test" was way easier than I thought, and even though I need to do a rewrite on my paper the current paper was graded an A. So I am likely to have an A. Amazing. Freaking amazing.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

The question of the day:

It's been asked many times before, I will ask it again. Pirates or Ninjas?

I stand four-square on the side of Ninjas.

Here is a synopsis of the controversy.

I will leave you with a picture, from an Iga-Togakure associated dojo. Does this chick not look like she can kick ass, take names, and chew bubblegum? Does this chick not look like she's out of bubblegum and in the mood to kick even more ass?

(you can click it to get a better look.)


Thursday, December 07, 2006

One of those "WTF?" facts of life...

Why is it that people are opting for USB2 drives over FireWire while most computers have a FireWire/IEEE 1394/iLink port? The USB2 protocol is inferior, requiring an intelligent host, while FireWire runs without any intervention by the computer. This is why you see FireWire ports on DV cameras: you don't have to build smarts into a DV camera to handle a data transfer. You can't use USB2 drives for video geeking, because it robs CPU to do data transfer.

Because of this, good inexpensive FireWire drives are hard to find, and Apple no longer includes FireWire ports on the iPod. That is SO wrong. Is FireWire an endangered species? Do geeks have to start a "Save FireWire" movement? Just a thought.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

RIP James Kim

One of the original TechTV guys is no more. James Kim's body was found today in Oregon, where he had died seeking help for his family who had become stranded on a snowbound road.

His wife Kati and two daughters Penelope and Sabine were found safely.

My thoughts go with the survivors. It's interesting how more than just geeks feel a loss about this death. It seemed like the news began following this more closely when the rest of the family was found. To Michaela Pereira's credit, she had been plugging this story all week on the KTLA Morning Show, before everyone but the geek community had heard about this story.

He died valiantly trying to find help for the ones he loved. I suppose that is not a bad way to die.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Update time...

1.) My DSL linespeed is finally up to where I'm happy with it. I was getting something like 500-650 down, but since I'm paying for 768/128 I really, really wanted a scoch more bandwidth. Now I apparently have it. Yay! My upstream speed has always been hovering around a little above 128.

2.) Life with the new lappie has been just lovely. It's way faster than anything I have owned, ever. And when Leopard comes out either in Q1 or Q2 2007 it should be absolutely SSSMOKIN'. And I'm not talking about the heat factor either. The Core 2 Duo is a 64-bit chip. Once more of the system becomes 64-bit native, and there wasn't 64-bit native code up until Tiger, things will only get faster. The big hangup is with the two apps that have to run PPC-to-Intel translated through Rosetta: Office 2004 and Photoshop Elements 4. Everything that's native Universal Binary code tears along happily. As far as heat goes, again, if it has to go through the Rosetta emulator things get warm quickly. If it doesn't, it's surprisingly cool considering the reports about Core Duo (Yonah) in the past. Merom (Core 2 Duo) uses less current draw than the original recipe Core Duo does.

3.) School has been absolutely nucking futz these past few days and it'll only get worse. It's going to be a bumpy ride for the next few days, and Tom Reed's visit down here is not likely to provide a respite.

4.) I will be taking a breather on Saturday for a few items: Apple Store for some helpful podcast hints, Jo-Ann's for $1 Simplicity Patterns (limit 10). Next Saturday it will be patterns from McCall's and Butterick that will be on sale: $2/pattern (limits unknown). That will also be when Tom will be down so who knows when we'll get to those. However, I will need to keep plugging away up until then and after. The first big priority is the Excel spreadsheet for Stats 1. I will be at school all day tonight, so I'm bringing the Happy Lappie with me to finish the job. Maybe I'll even input the 48 cases I need to input on my personal project. Wouldn't that rock?

I will likely observe Internet silence during this crazy period. See you later.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Relax, it's just a freaking game...

There has been one shooting, a few human stampedes, and locally a fistfight over the Playstation 3.

Come on, you idiots!

It's only a game. Besides, the Wii is cheaper and seems to have more innovative game play.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Back up again, and in transition...

Wow...lots and lots and lots of transition.

1.) My Great Uncle died. It hit me like a ton of bricks...Uncle Chuck was a guy who could make even the most depressed person smile. When my dad died he was the only one who could make me laugh. It wasn't unexpected...he was on his way out from Alzheimer's...but you can't prepare for the death of someone like that. He's got one last gift for me...a MacBook. I get it sometime in the not-too-distant future.

2.) MsGeek.Com is up again, but it's going to be on the move soon. However, Dotster is proving to be SNAFU central as well. I'm not budging it unless Dotster gets their act together. Don't count on it being there for anything crucial. Use my Gmail or my DSLExtreme email to contact me if you need to. This is giving me a headache.

3.) Things are getting nutty at school. We don't have many more weeks to go, I've got papers up the ying-yang, and all this stress...I'm feeling burnt out. I have all my classes for Spring 2007 including the one I thought might require I stay an extra semester to get all the prerequisites for it.

4.) Tom from Cartoon Geeks might be coming down to visit. It's not quite solid yet but I'm hoping.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006 knocked off the air AGAIN...

The reason why you see lots and lots and lots of broken icons on this website is that my fucking webhost has apparently gone down hard. I can't contact them via phone, their email is bouncing, and both my husband and I have lost access to all our online stuff except for those things not hosted on my space there.

I fear that I will *LOSE* Msgeek.Com as a domain name. I will have both Msgeek.Org and Msgeek.Net still, but Msgeek.Com is tied up with them. I wish I had moved my nameservice on that name to Dotster but up until yesterday everything was working still and the last time my host had an outage I really didn't notice it.

I'm very upset. This should be a happy time for me. After all, the Dems took Congress back. I should be ecstatic. Take care...

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Cosplay is Love, part 2

Richie joins the Rebellion, and I try the Jedi Mind Trick.

OK, this is my first time out with the Rebel Legion. Dig the very tall guy in the Clone armor from the 501st Legion. Impressive. Most impressive.

The guy who grabbed the Clonetrooper's gun is my hubby Richie. Well acted, Richie.

Nice to brighten the day of downtrodden telemarketers in Chatsworth. w00t.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Cosplay is love.

Samhain 2006 is almost in the history books in this time zone. We got a grand total of four costumed kids, all in one trick-or-treating party, who knocked on our door. I was feeling under the weather (still am) so I didn't indulge in any Halloween funstuff. I attended one party this year, but it was on Saturday the 28th at Woodbury. I wore the Jedi Habit and actually didn't look half bad. However, Woodbury has a fashion design program, and some of the costumes were pretty damn cool. The two best were Queen Elizabeth I (not historically accurate but really, really neat looking) and Sally from Nightmare Before Christmas. Between those two I hadn't a prayer. We bailed early.

Between school work and getting one last piece of the Jedi Habit together I have been sort of taking it easy but not entirely. I will actually have a real live Inner Tunic in time for my first two events with Sunrider Base, Rebel Legion. One of these events is open to the public: Cinemax is throwing a "Do you have what it takes to be a Jedi" event at the 3rd St. Promenade in Santa Monica on Saturday, November 4th. 10am to 5pm. One day before my birthday. w00t. I get to do Halloween both early and late this year.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Dang, I haven't updated this in a while.

Oh well, time to just do it.

I was born at Cedars of Lebanon in Hollywood. The former hospital is now the Scientologist world headquarters. This is an example of the area's odd permutations over the years.

The Hollywood Wax Museum has been in operation now since 1965. It's not the greatest wax museum in the's known for its singularly bad renditions of the Hollywood illuminati. It's also known for odd placement of its bad wax statues: The Terminator T-800 from the original movie with its face blown off is right next to the Last Supper. The world's weirdest and cheesiest wax museum actually is in Japan, but I wouldn't know it if Patrick Macias hadn't pointed that fact out to me.

Madame Tussauds, known for their uncannily GOOD wax statues, is now looking to put down stakes in Hollywood. They have their eyes on a site right next to the Chinese Theatre. This is bumming out the current owners of Hollywood and Highland, who also own the property, because they would rather see something more upscale and less touristy in that spot.

OK, I have the solution. Madame Tussaud's should just buy out the Hollywood Wax Museum. It's a building with lots of history behind it, and there's oceans of room for improvement there. Auction off the cheesy statues on eBay, because there is a known market for them. The place has a cult following just because it's so bad. Want a really funky-looking Shirley Temple for your living room? Bid for it. Then gut the place and start over again. No need to build, just get rid of all the cheesy props and stuff and do the place some justice.

Last year people were talking about the imminent closure of Movieland Wax Museum in Buena Park. The Hollywood Wax Museum kind of lived on that genuinely cool place's coattails, and benefitted from confusion between the two places. They shut their doors on November 1st, 2005 after a final Halloween fling.

Tussaud's could end all the confusion and have no competition anywhere nearby if they just bought the odd landmark. Added bonus: it's right next to the Snow White Coffee Shop, the coffee shop that Walt Disney started because he couldn't get a decent cup of coffee anywhere near his Hyperion Avenue original studio. Another added bonus: none of the folks who want to make Hollywood Boulevard more upscale will be offended by "yet another touristy attraction." They would just be displacing one for another. A simple solution to an otherwise confounding problem.

Monday, October 02, 2006

v2.0 tutorial main taping today.

Version 2.0

Still shot slide-show at Flickr.

It might take me a while to edit because the sound is even worse this time than with v1.0. I am going to have to write narration and get some production music together for this. I've also got schoolwork to, school work, what a concept!

Hope you like'll be the first to know when I'm done.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

It never rains in SoCal...

...except when it does.

Gonna have to postpone the taping because we're getting sprinkled on. I could care fact, I like the rain, and would love to see more of it. However, it's not healthy for a video camera not protected by a water-resistant housing, a camera accessory I don't have.

To look on the bright side, the folks fighting the huge Day Fire in Ventura County are getting a little cooperation from Mother Nature, finally.

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Shooting postponed

Hopefully only until tomorrow.

Friday, September 29, 2006

I'm gonna do it, folks...

I build the second lightsabre and shoot the video tomorrow. Here, not at Woodbury. This will mean dubbing in the narration separately. I think that iMovie can handle that.

May the Force be with me.

Monday, September 25, 2006

OMG WTF BBQ-ed Thinkpad 600x....

Linux kernel hacker Alan Cox has always sworn by his ThinkPad 600x. I have one myself, and one 600e with a screwed up LCD that an acquaintance gave me from the pallet of ThinkPads he bought from the Enron bankruptcy auction.

However, all that love went up in smoke, quite literally, on September 22nd.

According to Alan Cox's wife, this was the scene she saw right after the explosion.

Alan was on the other side of the room from the laptop. I was elsewhere. He yelled out, I ambled towards the room in my own good time, and then I heard Fire! Real fire! Call the fire brigade, now! and I speeded up a bit.

From Alan subsequently, I gather there was an explosion and flying pieces of laptop, and a fireball, and a couple of fires started where (presumably) boiling battery landed, and one fragment smashed an LCD monitor. And then there was smoke and smell (there is still smell) and smoke alarm wailing and firemen and sirens and paramedics (happily unneeded) and police and a man with a notebook asking questions for the fire report.

Now I'm worried about BlueTank, (600x) TejanoAzul (ex-Enron 600e) and my former BlueTomato, another 600e now living with my friend Shelby. The older battery I have that I use with the Tank when hooked up to a power source is an authentic IBM battery. The newer battery is Hacked By Chinese and I'm not entirely sure I trust it now. Tejano Azul doesn't even have a battery...I gave its battery to SFVLUG prime mover Brian Ragazzi and it's now living in HIS 600e. Chad Page has a couple of 600 series laptops with batteries in various stages of health.

Perhaps there's going to be a recall of 600 series batteries? The 600 series had other battery problems, namely the fact that the AC subsystem in the 600 series tended to over charge and fry out batteries prematurely. Perhaps IBM isn't going to give a hoot because the 600 is way too old to care about. Who knows.

All I know is that these are ugly, ugly pix. And Alan Cox is one of the unsung heroes of Open Source. He doesn't deserve to have his pride and joy computer go Kablooey and to be even mildly injured in the process. Eep...

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Another reason to hate IE.

Now that I'm on a sane computer with a sane browser available to me, I can get to this blog. IE seems to get confused between my old-school Blogger blogs and the beta, and drops me at my old-school Dashboard.

I wish Woodbury University would hurry up and deploy FireFox universally. They have it on some but not all machines. The Macs in particular need it desperately because, my apologies in advance to The Steve for this, SAFARI SUCKS HYENA PUDENDA.

Actually I think I'm ready to switch the rest of the blogs to the new setup. Please, Googleplex...hook a sista up, OK?

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Right Hand sabre just about complete...

It's beautiful. It fits my hand. It hangs better on my belt. It's great.

Here are the pix!

Gotta give 'nuff respect to Ryan at Random Sabers. He made this possible.

I think I might try to greeble the control box a little, but the approach I used last time won't work. Control box is way too small for a SO-DIMM. I'm thinking ICs clipped off of a non-working circuit board.

This is sort of a before-and-after pic.

Now you can see the reason why people were talking about "wookiee sabres" with regard to v1.0, and how these are just more in scale with me. The drain-pipe sabres would be just fine for a taller person with bigger hands. These are more like it for me.

Of course, I'll be recording the build of the left handed sabre.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Naked sabres! Naked sabres!!! (SFW)

Yes, these pix are safe for work. Now you see what I will be working with with regard to the new Hardware Store Jedi hardware lightsabre tutorial. I'm redoing it because of a few things I was dissatisfied with in the original project.

The old and new sabres, for scale. Note how big and klunky the first version of the sabres turned out. The next version should be a lot more elegant.

The greebling job will be quite similar to the original, except there will be only 5 of the aircraft part nurnies at the top, and there will be no faucet handle pommel. Otherwise I will be attempting to get as close as possible to the look and feel of the original in a more streamlined version.

Look how graceful they are! The pics don't do the blades justice...they are translucent iMac Indigo blue. Sweet. Thanks, Random Sabers!!!

Monday, September 11, 2006

ABC and Disney deserve to lose.

The bastards did it. Looks like The Big Dog will sue soon.

Until then, have a ABC/Disney's expense.

UPDATE: Read this Keith Olbermann essay. He's on fire tonight. Un-freakin'-believable. Send this to your friends.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Tomorrow is t3h k3wl w00dbury f4br1c 54l3!!!

The WU club formerly known as the Fashion Club is having a fabric sale...

(still from S.C.'s fanfilm "A Little to see it in its full glory)

No, no, no, not THAT ONE!

It's the one now known as Common Threads, and they're made up of fashion design and fashion marketing students at Woodbury. Every semester they do a fabric sale, and it's usually quite amazing. I got some really nice unbleached linen that is woven in this amazing checkerboard texture last time, and I will be using that for the final inner tunic of the Jedi habit. And it was only $1/yard!!! What a find.

I'm looking forward to some serious fabric hunting tomorrow. I suspect I'll have to buy yet another plastic bin. Oh well...

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Vault kicks, Ralphs sucks.

This is an actual message I sent to Ralphs Supermarkets, Inc., about an actual incident. There are many good reasons why people shouldn't shop at Ralphs. They pulled some evil shenanigans during the supermarket strike, for instance. But this was the last straw for us. There are not a hell of a lot of supermarket chains left in LA and even less that I will patronize. Now there is one less that I will shop at.

This evening I went to the Ralphs at Woodman and Sherman Way...I think it's considered Van Nuys there but maybe it's North Hollywood or possibly Arleta. In any event, I wanted to take advantage of the 5 12 pack for $11 deal Coca-Cola beverage deal advertised in your current flier.

I loaded up 5 12 packs of Vault Zero, which is a Coca-Cola product. The card price said "4 for $11" which was the same for all Coca-Cola products. The coupon mentioned "any Coca-Cola product" as qualifying.

However, when I tried to check out it was a completely different story. The grand total was almost $18 including CRV.

The manager was less-than-helpful and very rude. "The ad says Coca-Cola, Sprite, Diet Coke or Dr. Pepper. No Vault."

"Vault is a Coca-Cola product. The coupon says Coca-Cola products. It doesn't specify which Coca-Cola product."

"Yeah but the ad does."

No "Sorry about that." No "we apologize for the inconvenience." He treated us like we were something he scraped off his work boot.

"Fine! Be that way!" I said, and my husband and I left the store, and the 5 12 packs of Vault Zero.

Note well: my husband and I are never, *ever* going to darken the doors of a Ralphs again. End of story. We have never been treated so badly and we don't want to be treated that way again. We will be also contacting the local Coca-Cola bottler and telling them about your refusal to honor the deal on one of their less well known products.

To add injury to insult, the checker refused to surrender the coupon so that we could use it elsewhere. It makes me think only one thing: that the store intends to redeem the coupon regardless of whether it was properly used or not.

So there you have it: our sordid tale of abuse at the hands of a Ralphs manager. I hope this guy gets in a world of hurt with his higher-ups. Nobody treats me this way and gets away unscathed. Nobody.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Ernesto looks like it won't hit Hotlanta after all

So all you lovely folks going to Dragon*Con just enjoy, have a fun time, and make sure you bring a slicker to wear over your costume because you'll probably just get a "big wet rainstorm," like the folks in that one Daria episode got.

The way the storm track has been going, perhaps it will just boomerang off into the Atlantic and die. Good. After last year the less, the merrier.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Uh-oh...Ernesto may crash Dragon*Con

Guess who's coming to dinner...

Everyone is very relieved to see that Hurricane Ernesto is not really likely to follow in the footsteps of Hurricane Katrina and make a trip to New Orleans. Certainly those concerned about Gulf of Mexico oil platforms and potential interruptions/oil spills are breathing easier too.

However: there is one big event that Ernesto might be gunning for, and that's Dragon*Con.

My Cartoon Geeks buddy Tom Reed is going, as are most of the geeks on the Eastern Seaboard. Dragon*Con is to the East Coast what San Diego Comic-Con is to the West Coast. It's smaller than SDCCI, but it's not really smaller by that much.

Dragon*Con starts on September 1st. If you look at the chart (go ahead, click it!) you see where Ernesto will potentially be hovering on that date...a little bit north of Atlanta.

This doesn't look pretty. Hopefully Ernesto will lose its punch before it makes it there.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Rejuveniles in the pre-apocalyptic zone: Is anyone surprised?

Today someone basically gave a name to people like me. I'm a "Rejuvenile." w00h00. Someone's got my number. Someone's been watching me for the past 30 some-odd years. Yeah, Chris Noxon, preach on. You're preaching to the choir here.

A "Rejuvenile" is a person who's supposedly too old for things like toys, comic books, anime, cartoons, fantasy, and so forth, yet doggedly pursues them anyway. A "Rejuvenile" drives around in a cute little car like a Mini or a New Beetle or a Fit or rides a Vespa. A "Rejuvenile" bakes cupcakes or goes to a hip bakery to get them, and washes them down with Producer's Dairy chocolate milk...the stuff with Hopalong Cassidy still emblazoned on the carton. Don't look for it locally here in have to go to Fresno to find it. A "Rejuvenile" doesn't get together with buddies from the Alma Mater to play nine holes at Riviera, he gets together with his friends and plays kickball.

Is anyone surprised by this?

It seems like the "Rejuvenile" thing got mainstream in the wake of 9/11. I haven't heard official figures but the estimates were that 110,000 to 130,000 people attended San Diego Comic-Con this year. Last year's confirmed total was 104,000 people. It's not just the geeks and the Otakus that have rejoined the ranks of the "Rejuvenile." It's parents with kids and the whole family Cosplays.

What exists for those who are adults in this day and age?

As I wrote to the author of the book Rejuvenile as a response to a post on his blog:

No, I think that people are embracing a second childhood because the terrain of adulthood in the Third Millenium is a scary freaking place, and death is as real and palpable as the images burnt in our brains by the TV news on 9/11/2001 and 8/29/2005. (Hurricane Katrina is the second date for those for whom that date is not burnt into their cerebrums.)

The world is a more dangerous, scary place than it ever has been. Who the hell wants to be an ADULT now? People are looking for comfort wherever they can find it. What's more comfortable than eating cereal out of a box on Saturday Morning in your footies at ungodly-o-clock? What's more comfortable than a chocolate cupcake with rainbow jimmies? What's more comfortable than a pair of Vans' Off-The-Wall skater shoes, jam shorts and a faded old Led Zep T-Shirt?

We are becoming Rejuvenile because we crave what we lost as adults, and what recent history has taken from us. We are becoming Rejuvenile because death indeed lives on our shoulders now. For all of us, not just for Don Juan and Carlos Castaneda.

I am a geek, so much so that my identity online is "Ms. Geek" So many of the current Rejuvenile trends can be traced back to geek/nerd/Otaku tastemaker roots. And before this, to the Fandom that helped make Star Trek an institution and Sci-Fi reading material for a whole generation. Geeks and Otaku and Fannish Folk have always been the disaffected, the ones for whom the "mundane world" seemed colorless and a living tomb. None of us wanted to grow up because dammit, the grown-up world was screwed up. That's what it seemed like from the perspective of someone whose formative years were bookended by Vietnam and the rise of Reagan. And the truth of the matter is that aside from a brief shining moment of Clintonian optimism as the dot-com boom galloped and freedom seemed to be on the move in places like Russia and Eastern Europe, it's gotten worse and worse and worse.

People don't leave Mom and Dad's house because they want to stay there forever, unless you are an Italian male. People live under Mom and Dad's roof here in the States because they can't afford to strike out on their own.

People collect comics and lunchboxes and toys because it's a cheaper thing to collect than antiques and Expressionist paintings. The Rejuvenile lifestyle is not cheap-cheap unless you do things yourself and resist the temptation to blow money on that DVD box set or that Parks Sabers Luke Skywalker replica lightsabre, but it's a more econo lifestyle than others. Bling bling? Ka-ching. It's indulgences that people with lowered expectations and living with the reality of downward mobility can afford.

We know we're mortal. We know it will all be over someday. We dread the end but we dread the period before the end the most: the "assisted living facilities" and worse; the very real possibility of dirt poverty at one's twilight years, of cat food in a Single Room Occupancy hotel room. We know we're going to die and we know we are probably going to have a crappy old age. So why not postpone it all? Why not just cut out the boring, drudgy "adult" years and be a kid until our bodies don't allow us to anymore?

There is a dark reality to which the Rejuvenile lifestyle is a reaction. Does that mean it's dysfunctional? I'd say that people could choose worse and more maladaptive coping mechanisms than this.

The words of Tom Waits, in a song that could be an anthem for the Rejuvenile Nation, say it better than I ever could. Follow the link.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

School is fast approaching...

Wow. Where did the freaking summer go?

Tomorrow I'm going to be going to Woodbury at Nine Freaking O'Clock in the freaking morning to attend an orientation for people manning the Woodbury info booth. I'm also going to make it official and bail from Psychobiology. I hate doing that because one of my favorite Woodbury profs is teaching it, but then again it's a 9AM class and I'm simply not a morning person. I won't be able to do anything about it when I'm finally done with college and I have to re-enter the workaday world, but now I can schedule my life in such a way that I don't have to take early classes.

I was partially successful in tidying up the Lab. It's still a cluttered mess but not as bad as it was.

When this interface works, it's really, really nice. Of course, when authentication gets all stuffed up and I can't log in, it stinks. Thanks, Blogger...or at least, I think I'm thankful anyway.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Cutting through the clutter, one step at a time...

Thanks to the miracle of Craigslist I was able to offload a whole bunch of books I'm not going to need anymore. Au revoir, MCSE study books. Hasta la bye-bye, obsolete computer books. I kept most of my Linux books except for the really old ones. I even kept a compact but informationally dense book on Windows 2000, imagine that.

I still have a pile of books in the front room, but it's much smaller now. The majority of them are old textbooks I didn't part with for any number of reasons.

I haven't been able to get through all of the clutter I have wanted to this Summer. However, I have managed to make some progress. I still wouldn't invite someone here to hang out just yet. But it's getting better.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

We became snakes...

OK, here's my review.

1.) It's silly but it's not especially campy. The humor is all in the absurdity of the scenario.

2.) It's technically OK but you can definitely tell when a live snake was used in a scene and when CGI snakes were used. The CGI snakes had hints of "video game character" all over them.

3.) Nobody could have pulled this movie off but Samuel L. Jackson. In a lot of respects he's what elevates this above and beyond the schlock barrier. Great acting, with little hints of that good comedic sense he displayed at Comic Con when they did the panel.

4.) The director really got acquainted with Sam Raimi's style of directing when he did this. In fact I think the only person who could have made this better would have been Sam Raimi. Maybe they'll hire him when they do the inevitable sequels from Special Agent Flynn's case file.

5.) If you want a good idea of what you are in for, think the original Poseidon Adventure or the Airport movies instead of Airplane! This is a reboot of the '70s staple, the disaster film, not a spoof. If you've seen any of the originals from the period you'll know what you are looking at.

6.) I'm sure getting Keanu Reeves to portray the surf rat dude would have cost way too much for the budget. But that role was made for him. Maybe he'd be a bit too old for the role by now. In that case, the guy who got the role was just fine.

7.) No matter how prepared you are for the catch phrase, it's still effective. Although in my opinion the best line is actually "Fucking snake! Get off my dick!"

Was it worth the $15 for the both of us? Yeah, it was. Is it high art? Nope. Is it a mythological journey with a universal message? No freaking way. It's just your basic grindhouse disaster movie and if you come looking for anything else you will be disappointed. However, if you come looking for your basic grindhouse disaster movie you will be richly rewarded.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Snakes all over the Web...

I haven't been able to get to the theatres to see Snakes on a Plane yet, but I'm going tomorrow morning to my local megaplex ('nuff respect for the Mann Plant 16 in Panorama City!) to check it out during the first matinee. My hubby is getting all romantic and telling me to "consider it a date." OK, cool. Lunch and a movie. It's been a while since I've done that.

Of course, the fan action is at Snakes on a Blog. Some folks in Seattle got all Star Wars on it and lined up for SoaP at the Cinerama Theatre, which is owned (like about half of the city) by Paul Allen, formerly of Microsoft.

The movie is also surprisingly keeping a "fresh" profile on Rotten Tomatoes. Usually critics don't like getting shut out of a movie, but a lot of critics seem to be enjoying the movie anyway.

Here's a little bit of fan art I came up with:

Click it to see it in all its glory.

I still want to write a fic where Mace Windu has to deal with an attempt on his life on a starship bound for the tourist paradise planet of Naboo. And of course, the weapon chosen by the still-in-hiding Sith? Snakes. Snakes on a Starship. It's a natural. I took a few whacks at it but I suppose it really does require seeing the movie first. Of course, when it's finished, it'll be linked here.

Until tomorrow...sssssssssssss....

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Totally delighted with my new (to me) Mac...

I now have a fairly capable Mac to work with. An iMac is not usually what you would consider a "power user's" computer, but there you go. It's got a 500MHz IBM PPC G3 proc and now has 768MB of RAM now that the DIMM arrived.

There are some definite quirks about this machine. The specs are actually consistent with an iMac released in Europe, although it came with a plain-Jane slot loading CD-ROM as opposed to a CD-RW like the original spec says. Apple makes educational-only machines from time to time, and they are usually bare-bones affairs.

Now that the upgrades have been done, however, it is a more capable machine. It will get external storage upgrades which will make it even more capable: a DVD-/+RW/RAM drive and an external 120GB hard drive.

This should hold me until I get a MacIntel. I'm hoping to get one as a grad gift in 2007.

Update: here's my desktop. I don't know why I get such perverse pleasure in decorating my desktop but I do.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

25 computers in 25 years or less: what I think of PC World's list.

OK, PC World joined the celebration of the 25th Anniversary of the first IBM PC (Five-slot, 5150) with their list of the 25 Greatest Personal Computers.

When you put the word "greatest" on any list, you are begging to have people take pot shots at you. So here are my shots at their list.

First off, I agree with their number one. The Apple II was the first practical personal computer. The Apple I came as a kit. The rest of them (Altair, Imsai, etc.) were basically geek toys, at a time when most geeks were either HAM Radio enthusiasts, model train buffs, electronic kit builders or in Fandom. The Apple II came into its own because it had a "killer app" -- VisiCalc, the first spreadsheet program. This is what got it in the door in businesses where other less capable, more toy-like computers were stopped at the door.

The Trash-80 Model I is on the list too even though it was not a very capable machine. It was the first personal computer I spent quality time with, although I never had one. In fact, although my first encounter with a PC was in 1978, it took me 9 frustrating years to have a computer of my very own. Which turned out to be an IBM PC 5150 that my uncle didn't want to move to his new office because it was broken. "Fix it and it's yours." He threw in a brand new Tandon amber-screen monochrome monitor. What a guy. A PC for $200 in 1987 dollars. SCORE! W00t! The tough little guy wound up getting a replacement power supply, a serial mouse, a hard drive, a 1200Kbps modem, an Epson 9 pin dot matrix printer, a Hercules Monographic Card (Graphics! Yes!) and lots of time on BBSes.

My first experience in geek lust was for the Macintosh, though. Somehow the world of DOS and GEM and all the kludgy ways you did graphics in DOS-land was pretty grim compared to the effortless nature of graphics and sound on Mac. It took me until 1995 to have a Mac of my own, and to compensate I began to collect vintage Macs. I have a ton of them that I am going to clear out in the not too distant future because I know now I don't have the time or the skills to get them in fully functional order. I'm going to pare down to just the ones I know I will have some use for. The rest go out the door. I have to get a handle on this clutter and this is the only way.

The one Mac that should have been in the top 5 but wasn't was the Mac that saved Apple: the Rev A iMac. The Bondi Blue gem that looked like nothing that had existed up until the time, was often imitated, surpassed only by each further iteration of iMac. I am the proud owner of a Lime Rev D 333MHz and an Indigo 500MHz 2001 edition. I mean, I liked iLuxo when it came out. It was striking and beautiful and a wonderful re-imagination of the concept. Even iMac was an evolution and not a revolution: it owed its "DNA" to first the original Mac, then the other all-in-one Macs that followed, from the sublime to the ridiculous. They tip their hat to the "gumdrop" iMac in the honorable mention list, but it deserves better.

They also missed the iBook/MacBook completely. OMGWTFBBQ? O RLY? YA, RLY. The PowerBook made an appearance with the PB100, but that was it. They honored the eMate but not the "Clamshell" iBook, a real masterpiece of form and function which was "nigh invulnerable" ala The Tick. (A necessity for a computer designed for K-12 students) The "Clamshell" had two drawbacks: its weight and the intricate way the innards were engineered to protect them from harm. You would think the second drawback wouldn't be a drawback: again, designed to take punishment. However, it makes the machine a nightmare to work on, a fact revealed when I went looking for someone to upgrade the one I got from my Aunt Karen after she "upgraded" to a Sony VAIO laptop. I found intrepid souls willing to take the machine on, but they are in South Carolina. The work was done with the help of FedEx and DHL.

Not to make this article too Mac-centric, I will turn my attention to an entry I largely agree with, but only have little quibbles about. The Thinkpad, at least while it was still an IBM product (yeah, I know that Lenovo was one of the companies they outsourced manufacture to a few years before Lenovo bought the Thinkpad and other Think* lines from IBM, but hear me out...) was the Ne Plus Ultra of x86 notebooks. Built like tanks but often light enough to forget you have one in your backpack, they just plain rocked. The story of the Thinkpad is pretty neat, here's the link.

Anyway, the initial release Thinkpad, the 700, made it on the list. While it's a good choice, I can think of a better choice and a best choice. Here's what I wrote about the choice on Slashdot.

The 600 series Thinkpad, released at the height of the Dot-Com Boom, has got to be the epitome of Thinkpad-dom. It was light, (5 pounds!) it was versatile, it could run as a "3 spindle machine" (HD, Optical and Floppy) if you put the Floppy Drive in an external case that connected to a proprietary connector by a cable. During the Dot-Com Boom, the 600 series Thinkpad was a status symbol. It was the laptop the Big Dogs carried, unless they were Mac fans in which case they'd have a "Wallstreet" PowerBook.

The 600 series was the first to have official instructions on the IBM website on how to install Linux. (Red Hat, for the curious.) There was always a problem with the quirky sound chip, and it took IBM years to put out a driver (F/OSS, to their credit) for the MWave modem chip. Red Hat actually "certified" the 600 series Thinkpad, in spite of those problems.

The 600 "DNA" was transfered to the T series of Thinkpads, a series still in continued manufacture by Lenovo. Whether the T60 is a worthy member of the line is something the jury's still out on, but the T4x series remain classics.

Yes, the 700C was first. The 701C with its "butterfly keyboard" had more panache, and might have been a better choice for the Thinkpad niche. But the 600 series would have been the best choice of all, because it's the beginning of a continuum of perhaps the "best of the best" of the whole line.

It's getting late (or early, whatever...) so I'd better wrap this up with my additional OMGWTFBBQ what were they thinking? list.

1.) MIA: the White Box/Frankenbox/Homebuilt PC Compatible. It wasn't IBM or Apple or Compaq or Commodore or even Dell who opened PCs to the Great Unwashed. No, it was the shop around the corner run usually by a Mom and Pop who could put together a computer for you from mostly Taiwanese and Chinese parts. And if you were sufficiently geeky or had geeky friends, you bought your parts from said Mom and Pop and did it yourself.

The advent of this new era of "homebrew" computers didn't come on all at once. It was an extension of the upgrade trade. Just as you can go into a shop specializing in Volkswagen aftermarket parts and build yourself an entire old-school Beetle, eventually it got to the point where you could build the whole thing out of aftermarket upgrade parts.

Microsoft has a major hate going for the screwdriver shops and for computer fairs/swapmeets. Their BSA goon squad is not primarily geared towards stamping out "piracy" among either casual users or in offices...this "piracy" has helped gain Microsoft their Goliath-like market share of both operating systems and Office suites. And they haven't even made a dent in places in the Third World where less-than-legal copies of their software glut the market. But the biggest target for the BSA is the Mom and Pop screwdriver shop.

The screwdriver shops have fought back, after a fashion, by going online. NewEgg, the mecca for gaming geeks looking to trick out their systems, started off as a screwdriver shop. So did PC Club. These big operators now can go toe to toe with Microsoft and get the special rates the big manufacturers get on OEM copies of Windows XP they provide with systems. But the little guys are getting busted again and again, sometimes for specious, questionable reasons. Hence the screwdriver shops are closing down left and right, and the once mighty computer fairs are shutting down.

However, as the screwdriver shop fades into history, something the homebuilt computer is not bloody likely to do until and unless really onerous, legally mandated DRM finishes the job, we must acknowledge its contributions to the universalizing of the x86-based PC of these humble entrepreneurs. Screwdrivers high! Salute!

2.) Where's the Osborne? Putting the Kaypro into the article and not Osborne is like putting the cart before the horse. Osborne got there first. The luggable never would have had its moment in the sun had it not been for little Osz. Yeah, Osborne stole its idea from Xerox PARC. So did everyone else. Next!

3.) The MITS Altair 8800 was NOT a personal computer. It was a GEEK TOY. A personal computer allows you to do useful things. The Altair just sat and flashed lights and beeped. Period. End of line.

4.) VAIO. Good god, man, Toshiba was there first with the Libretto in 1996, and there have been more stylish little lappies before and since. Sony is NOT a PC company and never should have become one. They also spoiled their home electronics line, which was the envy of every other manufacturer by buying first CBS Record Group, then Columbia Tri-Star Pictures, then the Bertlesmann Group, then MGM Pictures. Sony became Big Media and they acquired an endless thirst for DRM everywhere like the rest of Big Media. The desire for more DRM everywhere has led to the scuttling of promising technologies like MiniDisc, and has made the geek community more suspicious about new Sony technologies like Blu-Ray.

VAIOs would still suck even if Sony wasn't a content owner. They are prissy little things made to look good but not to last. They are almost as fragile as Dell's low-end line but sold at premium prices. At least when Apple makes a computer some"Metrosexual" they build it well, although some would say that this fact about Apple is changing thanks to explodey batteries, short-happy power supplies, and humming, mooing, and roasty-hot MacBooks and MacBook Pros.

I guess the rest of the list I can take or leave. And PC World came up with another list of the 25 worst tech products earlier this year that I cannot disagree with at all. They hit some of the real howlers, although they missed a few things here and there. (Road Apples, anyone?)

Wow, this article turned out huge.