Posts Tagged ‘fun’

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List #18: Famous People I Have Seen in LA

6 February, 2013

As some of you may know, I moved to LA in April of 2011. So, I’ve been here for a while now, and have seen lots of famous people! So that’s cool. Without further ado, here they are:

  • Olivia Wilde – The first one, but the best one. I actually saw her the previous January, when I was visiting. She was at the table next to me at a restaurant!
  • Matthew Morrison – That is, the teacher on Glee. He was pumping gas at a gas station I went to. I cared less about him.
  • Michaela Conlin – (Mostly known for being “Angela” on Bones) Saw her on the street when leaving a restaurant. She was helping a very drunk friend not fall over.
  • John Francis Daley – (Among other things, known for being “Dr. Sweets” on Bones) This one, I actually talked to. Primarily because I was drunk and someone told me to. So I did (“My friend told me to tell you that you’re awesome on Bones.“) He said thanks. Saw him at the bar my holiday work party was at!
  • Anne Hathaway – Saw her at a vegan restaurant when we were having brunch. As was she. My brother told me to tell her she hathaway with words. I did not.
  • Patricia Belcher? – (Plays “Caroline Julian” on Bones) I’m not sure I’ve actually seen her. I saw someone who looks a lot like her when my elevator briefly opened on the wrong floor when I was going to the doctor. I want to say it was her because then I’ve seen three Bones characters and that’s kind of weird.
  • Todd Lowe – (Terry from True Blood) So, he has a band, and that band was playing at Kelly’s work holiday party.
  • Valerie Bertinelli – (She’s famous for… stuff?) I met her, she was nice, and apparently she’s in things, or so people tell me.
  • Ashley Williams – (“Victoria” in How I Met Your Mother) Eating lunch at my restaurant. A lot of these involve food.
  • Simon Cowell – At the shopping center. He seemed nice, and friendly, and not like his judginess (people were asking him for autographs and photos and such)

I believe that’s it. Honorable mentions go to Leonard Nimoy, Tate Donovan, Corey Stoll, Jason Alexander, anyone who was on Switched at Birth, and probably a few others, because I did see them in person but it was at various events or jobs so that hardly counts. Also a bunch of chefs who came out to see their patrons. As a parting though, Leonard Nimoy is awesome. And, basically, celebrities are like Pokémon.

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Fun Way to Waste Time

24 May, 2009

This isn’t a list, but a little online game thingie that’s sorta fun. It’s a build-a-kingdom over time game, so you have to wait for stuff to happen… You come back to it later and fun stuff has occurred.

Check It Out!

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List #3: To Make A Graph

21 May, 2009

One really has to have a bunch of data. Now, a lot of the stuff that I have done, or plan to do comes just from various data that a program (like iTunes) automatically gives you, or other bits of paper I have hanging around, where I’ve done calculations or written things done. But a lot of it is more detailed than that, and that requires a slightly more consistent or automatic way of taking things down.

Which brings of, of course, to the internet. Below is a list of a few of the fun tools for recording things (of all kinds) online, all of which I have used at at least some point, if I don’t continue to use.

Spending Diary: This is a pretty handy little guy if you’re trying to stick to a budget. It’s very simple to use, but it does rely somewhat on your memory. Given a day, you put in each transaction you made on that day: what it was, what it cost, and what category it is. For example, one of mine would be Oyster Card Top-Up, £5, Transportation. These each have separate little blanks. What it does is tallies up everything, and gives you nice charts and graphs of how much you spent on what type of thing over a given period. It’s pretty cool, although I’ve since stopped using it because it doesn’t do currency exchange. The data can also be downloaded into an excel document, which is very convenient if you want to play with it yourself.

Last.fm: This one you probably know about, as it’s a little more popular, but it’s still really cool. Thousands of little programs of various sorts can hook onto your iTunes and upload what you’re listening to at any given moment. This all goes to your Last.fm page, where you can see how many times you’ve listened to a particular artist, or song, or genre or… There’s also a radio function so you can play songs from anywhere that are also in your library. What I use it most for, though, actually, is this other site Last Graph. This takes your Last.fm profile data and puts it into a beautiful flowing chart (not flow-chart) of who you’ve listened to over a timeline. It’s a little difficult to describe in words, so head over to the site and check it out!

Yawn Log: Made by some friends of friends of mine, this is a convenient little gadget to tell you how little sleep you’re really getting. Yet another one that I stopped using because I couldn’t really be bothered, it was still fun for a while. You put in when you went to sleep, when you woke up, and if you like, how you slept and dreams and so on. You can set a target amount of sleep per night, and it tells you how close you’ve gotten to that target over the past week, with a graph. It’s a work in progress still, as far as I can tell, so new things are popping up every day.

Wakoopa: This is another automatic one. You download a tiny program, and it records what programs you’ve used and for how long, as well as certain websites (that count as web applications, such as Gmail, or Facebook, or Twitter). Once again, it uploads these to your profile, and presents them as a list and as some nice pie charts so that you can see how distracted you really get. In theory, once it gets a bunch of data, it recommends you programs that you might like. So far I haven’t been interested in any of mine, but there’s still hope.

Mint: This isn’t quite the same as the other ones, it’s more actually functional and less simply interesting. You can put in your financial info (it’s reputable, I swear. Really.) and it collects your various balances from various banks and credit cards and so on in one place, so you don’t have to scavenge around the internet to get them. It can also provide you with charts and graphs of your spending, but since I primarily use cash from ATMs, this is all but useless to me. Nevertheless, for keeping track of how much money I have, it’s a great tool.

TripIt: A very cool way of keeping track of travel information. Useful both for fun’s sake, seeing how many miles you’ve travelled and how many cities and so on, but also again for getting everything in one place. Confirmation codes, things like that. Easy to input stuff, as you jsut send confirmation emails to them, and they magically put everything in. Pretty sweet.

WordPress: This isn’t a link, because it would only be a personal one. When you have a blog on WordPress, such as this one, you get a “Dashboard” along with it. This has handy things like comment tracking, news, and so on, but what really catches my eye is the statistics it gives you. It tells you where people came from to look at your blog, what they looked at, and where they went after. It gives you views per day, per week, and per month. So you can always strive to improve. Until recently these graphs were a little awkward, with a fluctuating baseline, so you couldn’t really get a sense of what was going on, but now that they are set at 0, it’s a wonderful resource. And one I pay attention to too much.

These are just a few of what I imagine are many different applications like them. I’ve read about ones that can track anything quantifiable, such as Daytum, or Plodt, but as I haven’t really used those I can’t say much about them. If you’re interested in quantifying pretty much anything, check out Wolfram Alpha, a search engine that gives you numbers and (hopefully useful) data about whatever you put in. I came across it a little before I found out it was actually useful, and I thought it was lame. But then, for complicated mail-related reasons I had to find out what 8.6 months from December 15th was, and Google completely failed me. I randomly tried Wolfram|Alpha (the proper way to type it I believe), and it worked like a charm! Needless to say I was impressed.

As a final thought, most of these of course bring up a question of privacy. Do you really want the entire internet to know what software you’re using, what you’re listening to, where you’re going? My answer, at least, is absolutely not. With the exception of Mint, these all have an automatic profile, which in theory everyone can see. I have my privacy options on all of them set so that no one but me can see it, which helps it to a certain extent. I realise that the data is still out there, and probably once I get bored with stats I’ll remove myself from all of these. But until then, it’s more fun than it is worrisome. After all, it doesn’t matter that much if someone else knows that I play a lot of Tetris instead of writing, right?

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Musicals You Should Listen To

13 March, 2009

I’m a reasonable fan of musical theatre. I’m a bigger fan of weird musical theatre. I could honestly care less about big shows like Rent, Chicago, and so on. I’m much more entertained by, say, Zombie Prom, or Evil Dead the Musical; tongue in cheek revues that really have no connection to the mainstream. Or, a connection that is so odd that it’s just perfect. It’s two of these last category that I’m about to share with you, and, what’s more, they’re free online, so you have no reason NOT to listen.

24: The Musical—This is basically amazing. By the same people who apparently wrote a musical version of The Silence of the Lambs, it’s a musical of the second season of 24. I mean, honestly, there’s not much I can say about this that wouldn’t be better experienced by listening to it. It also has a somewhat specific base of experience, it’s going to be much funnier if you’ve seen 24 at all, and even more the second season. The one track not to miss is “I Will Torture You,” which includes such choice lines as “I will yell at you in my angry voice [if you’ve seen 24 you know exactly what this means].” Similarly, “Three Countries in the Middle East” (which also makes fun of the very unspecific threats consistent in 24) contains a reprise of the following: “Bauer: I will torture them! David Palmer [president]: Please don’t torture them! Bauer: Let me torture them!” Occasionally melodies are based on the relatively stupid incidental music by Sean Callery, which makes his music much better. There’s also one moment where the best phone ring ever is used melodically, somehow.

Star Wars: The Musical—This is good in a slightly different way. Some of this music is unbearable, in my opinion, but it’s still an entertaining concept. But what makes this one especially interesting is that one song is, well, actually, really good. The special edition version of “One Season More” is produced and written incredibly well. I’m impressed.

Anyway, I just thought I should share.

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Playcount

10 March, 2009

Today, I did something that I have been meaning to do for quite some time. And hopefully it will be an ongoing project (since it’s a lot of grunt work, it’ll be a perfect procrstination tool…)

Ever since I got iTunes, I have been enthralled with the play counter. I have a lot of playlists that are based on this gem of information, and I definitely cared about it enough to cheat it when I was listening to a song that I didn’t want people to know I had listened to. (Of course, now, if you stop a song in the last 10 seconds, it still counts as a play, so my plans have been foiled.)

But for about a year, I’ve noticed that the most-played song in my library has a count of 52, and 2/3 of my library (say, 10000 songs) has a playcount of 1 or 0. Now, this is partially because of playcounts being distorted by taking songs (and their metadata) from my old old iPod to put them onto my new computer. As a result, all but 2 songs in my Top 25 Most Played are from my old computer, and, honestly, I don’t really listen to them anymore. But, they still have a higher playcount, because I had that computer for about twice as long as this one. Regardless of the reason, the playcounts in my library were wildly disproportionate. Just like 95% of wealth being concentrated in the top 5%, or some similar statistic about energy consumption, most of my playcounts were concentrated in a small minority.

I finally decided to find out how much. I’m sure there’s a program that does this for you, but I just used good old copy-and-paste and Excel. And came up with the following:

My iTunes Playcounnts

This is the graph of the playcounts of my 500 most-played songs. As you can see, and as I sort of expected. It’s pretty logarithmic. I think that’s the right term. Anyway, it goes down drastically after the first, say, 25 songs, and then levels out. Now, keep in mind that this is only 1/30th of my library, so the steep drop at the beginning would be even steeper were I to put all of the playcounts here.

Partially as a result of this, I’ve decided to make more and better smart playlists, to try to counter this concentration effect. The first one is my Top 500 most played songs which did not come from my old computer, which, as far as I can see at the moment, is a much more accurate portrayal of the kind of stuff I listen to. My music tastes have apparently changed, but it’s still recorded in the computer. Also, incidentally, I realised the other day that a list of every single song I have played (or nearly) in the past two years is online, at last.fm. My computer automatically tells it what I’m listening to, and I don’t often think about this fact. But, if anyone ever wanted to know what I was listening to at, say, 3:04 PM on July 17th, 2007, I could tell them. [EDIT: Not actually true. Once you get a certain time away, it no longer gives exact times. However, it does still have the exact order of tracks, so in theory you could extrapolate, make a rough guess…]

Anyway, I found that interesting, and I just thought I should share.

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Review: Bolt 3D (RATING: 8/10)

26 February, 2009

I’ve realised that my ratings are basically arbitrary. But I guess its more the content of the review that matters rather than the numerical value. On to that content.

This movie was in 3D. Which, as it was computer-generated, must have been relatively easy to do, since all the “distances” are already in the computer, you would, I assume, just have to put it into some rendering program and *poof* 3D. The ease of this process is why, I imagine, this movie didn’t gain much by being 3D. There were a very few scenes that had a large depth of field and looked pretty cool, but for most of it, you almost didn’t notice. I think Disney used a theory of “why not?” rather than “why” when making that decision. Still, 3D in general makes everything cooler, so it certainly didn’t detract from the movie, it just didn’t add much.

On to less concrete parts of the film. Well, not quite. The art was very good. i really liked the way this movie looked, and things like the fur (a central part of a movie about a dog) were, dare I say, realistic, despite the movie being cartoony. I liked the cartoony aspects of the movie—they didn’t try with humans, which is always a good thing to do (the awkward ones in Toy Story, remember, and the uncanny valley of Final Fantasy). Some characters (the hamster) were more cartoony than others, but so were their personalities, so it worked out well.

Plotwise, this was rather typical. There was the one gimmick of the dog thinking he had super powers, but, essentially, it turned into Homeward Bound. A dog, a cat, and a hamster travel across the country to find their (well, Bolt’s) owner. Despite this, it was very entertaining. It was funny enough, and Rhino the hamster was basically hilarious any time he was on screen. It’s made better by the fact that he is voiced not by an actor like everyone else in the movie, but by an animator who did the test voice. They liked it so much, they put him in the movie. Regardless of the simple, cliché, plot, and perhaps because of it, this was very fun and pleasant to watch.

And, since it’s a Disney movie, we once again have the question of morals. Which are almost exactly the same as in Ratatouille. Which, of course, makes me like this movie immensely. Despite finding out that he doesn’t actually have super powers, Bolt manages to do (with the help of his friends, aw) exactly what he set out to do. So, as in Ratatouille, you can do anything you put your mind to, essentially. Always a feel-good message.

My final thought: you don’t see it, but Bolt bleeds in this movie (it’s talked about, but not shown). How often do Disney characters bleed? It stood out to me at the time, and it still does now…

Anyway, go see this movie. Not necessarily in 3D, though (it’s released in both formats). Unless you like the COOL glasses.

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Exposé!

24 April, 2008

Well, this is going to be a little bit of a reveal into the inner workings of the blog. Sort of. One of the wonderful things that WordPress does is show you how many people are visiting your site, from where, and what they’re looking at. Imagine my surprise when I discover that I seem to be one of the only sources on a livejournal phenomenon called salmoning. In the past day i was discovered as this, and my readership has soared—of that one particular article…

I happen to glance at my stats at 2:38 this morning and am amazed to see:

The beginning

But it gets better!

2:32 PM:

6:33 PM:

And finally, just now, at 11:43:

Still going strong, even after almost 24 hours. This is mainly from two livejournal communities. The first day’s worth of hits is from the community for victims of salmoning, that I linked to in the earlier article, and the second is from community where people ask questions. Someone asked “Who has been salmoned?” with a link to me. I guess I’m now the go-to blog when it comes to telling people what salmoning is. Pretty cool. I’m proud of myself.

Anyway, back to my insanely busy schedule (I’m in a play and finishing up the semester, which is why I have hardly updated at all recently). When I have to study for finals, I’ll certainly write more…