Archive for March, 2008

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Technological Admiration

31 March, 2008

Last night, I was salmoned. And until last night, I had no idea what that meant, nor had I ever heard of it. Basically, there’s a dude, or bunch of dudes, with a computer program. So, this program surfs livejournal (remember when I said this wasn’t one?), and finds two people who have just updated their journals and happen to also have their AIM screennames listed. It then messages one of these people with something (in my case, “The Spice Must Flow.”) from a screenname that is “—–salmon” (mine was topologysalmon). When that person responds, everything that they type actually goes to the other person. So, the people start talking, both thinking that they are talking to someone who has messaged them first with a confusing comment, and whose screenname is “—–salmon.”

As I said, this happened to me last night. And the person I was talking to as well as I were both very confused. I was a little scared, to be honest, because it seemed very similar to how my stalker talked to me (I have a legitimate stalker, just so you know…). But eventually I searched the internet for “topologysalmon” and came across the livejournal community for the victims of salmoning.

But I wouldn’t really call myself a victim. Once we figured out what had happened, we actually had a pretty interesting conversation; introducing ourselves while searching the web in parallel for this phenomena. And that seems to be the general reaction to being salmoned. Most people enjoy it. Its kind of a fun way of meeting people. A little creepy that it can be done, but now that I know what it is, I’ll be ready for it (whenever anyone with salmon in their screenname messages me.)

So, in sum, the internet is an interesting place, where interesting things can happen. Unlike the world of my computer and printer (that’s to tie it to my previous real post.)

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Monday Roundup 12!

31 March, 2008

I’ve got a bunch of links for you today… Wide-ranging, too!

[Humor] Garfield Without Garfield: Classic Garfield cartoons without Garfield. Very creepy. But kind of hilarious.

[Entertainment] Creme-Egg Fantasies: I’m counting this as art. According to the Cadbury site, the life goal of Cadbury creme eggs is to release their goo unto the world. Creepy. Click on “Fantasies” on the map (the hanging shade at the top right), and see all of the awesome videos they made with stop animation and candy. Like this one (if you’re too lazy to navigate through the site): Mousetrap – Special Edition.

[Entertainment] Sweded Movies!: So this is apparently all spawned from the movie “Be Kind Rewind,” but it’s a trend where people remake a movie themselves with a very low budget. Some are pretty hilarious. And some are pretty incredible, actually. Like this LOTR one, for example (the Ian McKellan voice is spot-on.) And be sure to watch for the velociraptors in this version of Jurassic Park. Finally, this stop-motion copy of the light race from TRON is really fun. There are many more of these, some are good and some are bad. Just search around on Youtube for the phrase”Sweded.” I guess I need to see “Be Kind Rewind” one of these days.

[Current] McCain Stumbles on H.I.V. Prevention: Man, and I liked McCain. I mean, I’m still an Obama man, and what’s more, a Democrat, but I thought McCain was smart and cool. Maybe it was just the situation. And trying to please lame conservative people.

[Random] Slow Motion Slap: Exactly what it sounds like. Really cool.

[Current] Phonautogram: This is a newly found recording, which is the oldest ever. Sort of. It wasn’t intended to be played back, but it can be. Anyway, it was created by a Frenchman before any of Edison’s recordings. And the story’s written by my cousin! Yay! (This has shown up in so many places over tha past few days, so I bet you’ve seen it before).

[Humor] Guy Who Says “Previously on Heroes” Wishes He Was Guy Who Says “Previously On Lost”: Honestly, I bet he does. The Lost guy isn’t that great. This is  a funny article from the Onion. Also from the Onion: Are We Giving Robots Too Much Power? (A funny news discussion from the future)

[Geeky] D/A Clock mizes precision craftsmanship, space and time: It looks like a digital clock, but it isn’t! Cwazy!

[Humor] La Pequeña Hillary Clinton: So this little guy has been circling the nets for a while, in various iterations, and I’ve basically refused to post a link, because I think it’s weird/creepy. But this one’s pretty funny. So I’m lifting my ban. Just this once.

[Science] Suspended Animation Without the Freezing: Sounds cool. That video doesn’t work, though, so I don’t know what it was supposed to show.

[Science] Naked-eye Gamma Ray Burst: Let me know if any of you turn into the Hulk.

[Science] Colbert and Kamen Solve the World’s Water Problems: Dean Kamen has now redeemed himself from the disappointment that was the Segway. And Steven Colbert is cool, too.

[Geeky] Scifi Machines: Eight of the Oddest Inspriations for the Coolest Science Fiction Machines: I’m particularly interested in the one that’s backwards: Alien to the army suits, not the other way around. I didn’t know that was the first instance of one of those assisted lifting things. That was vaguely a pun. But not really.

[Current] Botanist sues to stop CERN hurling Earth into parallel universe: The funny thing about this is he’s not insane… This is something I occasionally worry about, too. But not enough to sue anyone. [Current] is an iffy distinction, as well. I couldn’t think of anything else.

[Science] Saturn Moon May Have Ocean of Water: I mean, the fact that it might have water has been known for some time. But this is new evidence of an internal ocean.

Hurray!I have a few more, but that’s enough for this week. They’ll just carry over to next Monday, I suppose.

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Technological Frustration

30 March, 2008

This is halfway between a complaint and a public service announcement. I just spent three hours dealing with a problem that should have never existed in the first place. Basically, ever since a little bit before spring break, my printer had not worked. Sort of. It’s one of those cool all-in-one deals that can scan and copy, as well as print. And the scanning and copying worked fine; the pictures got on to my computer and everything. But pressing Apple-P just didn’t work: I got a weird error message saying that the computer could not connect to the printer. Which is a blatant lie, because I could scan, and so the printer and computer were talking.

But, as I said, this was just before spring break, so I just shut everything down, went home, and hoped that it would get better with time. Which it didn’t. I needed to print out an application for a job today, and the same problem happened. So, I deleted the printer drivers and reinstalled them from the HP site. No good. I then deleted them and reinstalled them from Apple Software Update (it is handy that you can download drivers direct from Apple, because it can tell which ones you need). Also didn’t work. So, I tried deleting everything having to do with printing and resetting the preferences, restarting the computer…. Nothing. Finally I looked online (this is after about three hours, and redownloading the stupid drivers about 10 separate times), and randomly found the problem.

The problem is Apple’s most recent Security Update (2008-002). But not by itself, no. That would be too easy. It’s the newest update combined with another program: Audio Hijack Pro. This is actually a very useful program; it can record audio, which is cool, but I already have something that does that. What I use it for is something that Apple really should build in to computers: the ability to mute individual applications. So often I’m playing a flash game online that doesn’t have a volume control, which is lame. So, I just use Audio Hijack Pro to mute Firefox, and I can still listen to iTunes and hear alerts and everything. Very cool. Anyway, as you can see from that description, Audio Hijack Pro has ABSOLUTELY NOTHING TO DO WITH PRINTING!!!!!! And yet, it still screws it up. In combination with the Security Update. Luckily someone (I have NO idea how) figured out that this was the problem, and they’ve released an update to AHP that fixes it.

So now I can print. Woohoo. But seriously, that problem made NO sense and shouldn’t have existed.

Now I’m listening to the album “The Reminder” by Feist, which is on many 2007 top ten album lists. It’s pretty good, but… I was about to say I like the Amy Winehouse album better (because it’s somewhat similar), and then I realised that on the particular list I was looking at, Back to Black was number one. So, people agree with me. Or rather, since I’m rather late, I agree with people.

More on albums later, as I’m experimenting with only listening to full albums. As is my brother.

That is all.

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Review: “The History of Love” – Nicole Krauss (RATING:8/10)

27 March, 2008

This is the first book in a while that I’ve actually read only because of a recommendation. I was looking for something to do over my spring break, and my parents handed me this book. Sadly, it didn’t take very long, but the time it did take up was well spent. I really liked this book.

From the title, it sounds like it would be a romance. It is, and it isn’t. There are various love stories, but they aren’t really resolved, nor are they really current (to the story’s timeline, that is). But it ends really nicely, things are tied up, and everyone is happy. Most characters are Jewish (if not all?) and slip into using Yiddish terms (translated or otherwise) throughout the book. There’s a kid who thinks he’s the Messiah (but not in an insane way, but a more normal-seeming way, strangely), a girl who writes books on how to survive in the wild, an old ex-writer who spills things at the store just to be seen, and more.

The plot really centers around a book, entitled the History of Love (hence the title of the real book), and how it affected various people. My biggest critique of Krauss is that I loved this book-within-a-book. She includes long passages from it, and I really just wanted to read that book. It was written in a style very similar to Italo Calvino, actually, and my favorite parts of reading this book was when it was that book, if that makes any sense. So, that’s not even a critique, really. Just that I loved that other style, a more flowing, train-of-thought style. But I realise she couldn’t really have written the whol book like that, as it’s difficult to get a narrative across in that type of writing.

The only other thing I didn’t like about the book was a brief “Fight-Club”-esque twist at the end that didn’t really make any difference, nor sense. I won’t say it here, but it involves the old guy.

For a spring break book, this was wonderful. And, as you can see, I rated it highly. So check it out! Worth the read.

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Underground Rivers, Creepy Lighting, and Hair Bands…

25 March, 2008

As I previously mentioned, this past weekend I went to New York State. I was visiting a friend at Skidmore, and on Easter Sunday we were looking for things to do that were open (relatively few, let me say). We went to the Saratoga Springs tourist site and discovered that New York’s second-most-visited natural attraction (presumably the most-visited is Niagara Falls) was just a short drive away: Howe Caverns. This seemed pretty interesting, although maybe not necessarily something either of us would have really done if other options were available, so we got in the car and went.

We were on the last tour of the day. Correction: We were the last tour of the day. There was no one else there, but us and our guide who must have been our age, if not younger. Now, I have been in a few caves before—the Waitomo caves in New Zealand and a cave system near Tucson, AZ which I can’t remember the name of—and I have to say they all look relatively the same. They have nice walkways, and random colored lights set into the walls in “natural-looking” sconces. They have stalactites and stalagmites, usually named (often with religious motifs), and passages and big balancing rocks. Howe Caverns was no different. But, partially because of our guide, it was a lot of fun. He was pretty frank about things, saying when what he was saying was a lie, telling stories about other tours, and describing how he had explored on his own even though he wasn’t supposed to.

The whole system was carved by an underground river which we walked above for the whole tour, and then took a little boat ride on. It was found in the 1800s by a farmer who was following his cows. One of the most interesting things that he talked about, though, was something that happened much more recently. He told us how another guide once told him a story that he thought was a blatant lie (this was right after I asked about the acoustics in the cave, and whether or not there had ever been any concerts under there). The guide had said that there had once been a music video shot in the cave, about a dwarf. But it turned out to be true. And indeed, some wonderful person has put it on Youtube. It’s by a band called Savatage, and the song is “The Hall of the Mountain King.” It’s pretty bad, but very entertaining. Especially if you can sort of discern places you’ve been through the haze of bad camera-work and Youtube encoding.

So, I just thought I should share the fun of Howe Caverns with you. There was also an “Adventure Tour” which we didn’t take that involved actual spelunking, which is something I’ve always wanted to do. But I’m sure there are better, less commercial places to do that. Have you spelunked? If so, tell me where, so I can go! Also, if you know why it’s called that (spelunking, that is) please tell me!

Incidentally, Savatage is apparently a combination of “savage” and “avatar,” not “savage” and “sabotage” as one might think. 

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Monday Roundup 11!

24 March, 2008

I’m back from New York! It was the longest I’ve ever driven by myself (4 hours each way), but it was pretty fun, actually. I mean, being there was definitely fun, but the drive was fun too. I didn’t have to skip a single song on my playlist, which is really rare for me… So that was 150 odd songs in a row. I’m impressed with myself. And that’s why I didn’t update over the weekend. I went to a cave, which I’ll probably talk about later today or tomorrow. (Caves are awesome.) So, without further ado, the roundup. I’m trying to do this earlier in the day, as that gives it more of a chance of actually being Monday when you guys read it…

[Geeky] Wii Damage: This blog hasn’t been updated in more than a year (after people realised how to not destroy everything in their house when playing video games), but there are still some pretty impressive pictures of bad things that happened when people first played with their Wiis.

[Tech] RoadRunner Bluetooth Communicator: So, back in the day, I read a far-future sci-fi book series called the Hyperion Cantos, which was amazing for many reasons. But one of them was the fact that the first book was written in the 70s late 80s, and basically every technology in the book had not been thought of then but has been though of since (well, except for hypergates, but things like wireless internet and comlinks [in effect, iPhones]). And now, I can add another one to the list: sub-vocal communications. This has been around for a while, NASA is working on using it for guiding Mars rovers, but this is the first commercial application of it, that I’ve seen anyway. Woah, that was a lot of explanation. [EDIT: Awks. I should have actually read that wikipedia article, instead of just linking to it. 1989 was the date of the first book. I rely on my memory too much, I guess. In any case, my point still stands. Those things didn’t exist (although they were much closer to existing than I thought), and now they do. Dan Simmons is cool. That is all.

[Random] Discardia: For those of us who need motivation for spring (/fall/summer/winter) cleaning… A holiday? Eh, why not. I like the varying lengths of the “celebration” (from the equinox or solstice to the following new moon).

[Current] An Enduring Test of Fitness: The Simple Push-Up: This almost motivates me to do push-ups. Almost.

[Random] Beer Cupcakes: Sound good to me! In (belated) honor of St. Patrick’s Day, I guess.

[Current] Australian Man Gunned Down in Driveway by Killer Robot: Ok, so he created and programmed the robot to do just that. But still, this makes me uneasy that it worked. I don’t like robots. Especially ones made to kill people, regardless of whether or not it’s suicide. I have to hand it to the guy though; he certainly picked an inventive (and time-consuming) way to go.

[Humor] Barack Obama-sistible: The Fake Steve Jobs finds amazing videos.

[Entertainment] Peeps Show II: The Washington Post ran a contest where people recreated movie scenes (for the most part; some are from other sources) with Peeps. Some are pretty cool. More fun things you can do with Peeps here.

[Science] Four Online Telescopes Serve the Stars to Interstellar Paparazzi: You can get pictures of whatever you want in the sky. This is pretty cool. (Especially if  you combine it with one of those Name-a-Star things.)

[Entertainment] Name That Film: Some of these are really hard, and others are really easy. People upload stills from movies, and the game is to identify them. See how well-versed in cinema you really are…

[Random] Elite Forces Utility Comb: Definitely look at the headline, if nothing else. Some things in this world I will never understand.

[Tech] A flashlight that hides a submachine gun is terrifying: The title says it all. Another tool combined with a weapon.

[Science] Capture Lightning in a Block: I would totally do this, if I had time.

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Update!

21 March, 2008

Just so you know, I’ve now updated the About page on the site, so that it’s a little more informative than before. Let me know if you think I should add anything; what do you want to know about me?