Friday, December 31, 18:16 CST
Last day of 1999. My last update for the year. For the 1900's, for that matter.

Happy big round number, all.

Saturday, December 25, 12:10 CST
Merry Christmas and a general Happy Holidays (whatever you celebrate, or don't) out to Gurney, Gulthek, Tessa, Saalon, LWQuestie, MeanStreak, Hawk, RifRaf, Vash, Journeyman, moon, Wyrdrune, Annakie, Smurf, GaretJax, Ruxandra, Bronweg, tvb, Zach, Cornjob, Maples, Xandar, DrMarcus, JohnLennon, Swooop, cat, wombat, Axquat, MlitiaGrl, Capper-Deluxe, Crayon, FoolsRun, Data, Mike, Jesse, Ben, and everyone else. :)

Christmas already. Sorta snuck up on me. Which seems odd, given that this year's meaningless artificially induced consumer feeding frenzy was probably as annoying as it's ever been. But that's a rant for another day...

I'll be leaving soon for Kansas and family gatherings. Be back in a few days, I guess. Merry Christmas all!

Wednesday, December 22, 1:18 CST
"the moon on the breast of the new fallen snow gave a lustre of midday to objects below..." It's bright enough to read by out there.

I think I've got the basics of vi down. Took less time than I thought it

[disconnect]

would. Coolness. I lost my connection in the midst of editing this on my shell account, and vi saved a copy of the buffer and mailed me to tell me it'd done so. *That* is my definition of user friendly. I was about to say I sort of enjoy using this editor now.

Anyway.

I saw The Green Mile Monday night. Wow. I don't really feel up to attempting a review. It's an excellent film. No, it's not another Shawshank Redemption. Yeah, it coulda been shorter, more focused. It could've been a better movie. What it is, though, is amazing and moving and not easy to watch.

A while back I said I thought Fight Club and American Beauty were the two best movies of the year. Stupid thing to say. There've been too many great movies lately to honestly try singling one out as The Best.

Messing around (avoiding homework) Sunday, I managed to get my Palm3x working as a terminal on my Debian box. PalmTelnet is cool. Granted, this doesn't have any useful application in *my* life, but it's fun to play with anyway. And hey, you never know when you'll need to use your PDA as a terminal. Like, umm, suppose you're engaged in Saving The World some time, and you need a way to log in to a Linux box without a monitor or keyboard, say to disable that at job that's about to start off a nuclear holocaust... Ok, so I'm reaching.

You know, an empty Altoids tin makes an excellent candle holder. The inside of the lid acts as a reflector, assuming you have it propped against something. Good way to get extra value out of a candle stub.

I think I'll go to bed now.

Saturday, December 18, 23:06 CST
Ahh, Saturday. It's cold and windy and generally unpleasant outside. Everything's covered in a thick layer of frost from the fog last night. If there were more snow on the ground, it'd probably be drifting...

I read The Golden Compass a couple of weeks ago. It's classified as Young Adult Fantasy, though I'm not sure why the Young Adult, and it's anything but Standard Fantasy. It takes place in an alternate world where physics, theology, and magic overlap in interesting ways. Starts off in England, in a time that feels like the early 1900's, but, well, different. The story is peopled by Oxford scholars and Gyptians and Witches and intelligent armored bears. The humans are accompanied by Daemons, sort of like manifestations of their souls that take the form of animals...

It's the first in a trilogy(?) called His Dark Materials, and I see book two, The Subtle Knife, is out.

I watched Wild Wild West the other night. It sucked. A lot. (One groan-worthy visual pun aside.)

I should probably go put a log on the fire in the house. Assuming it's not out already.

* Brennen wanders off...

Friday, December 17 (posted later)
Was going to write this before going to the basketball game. Guess I'll just write it on the Palm.

There's finally snow on the ground here. Christmas coming and all, this is good.

[Later...]

Half time. Excitement. Or something.

You know, the problem with this thing is that it's impossible to write anything without a steady refrain of "What are you writing on that thing?". My next reply is going to be "A violent revenge fantasy. Care to hear how you die?"

Argh! This is the last time I use this thing in public.

Thu Dec 16 01:00:54 EST 1999
Different date format... I did ":r !date" in vi, just to see what it'd do.

I've been doing a little writing on the Palm3x lately, notes and quick e-mails and stuff. I've come to the conclusion that what the Palm really needs is a sort of vi-like editor. Not specifically the same interface - the keyboard input that vi depends on would map to a stylus/character recognition device really badly. But something that'd let you edit in the same way, quickly making changes and navigating with relatively little input. I wonder if a pseudo-vi with graphical buttons or shortcuts for some of the most commmon stuff would work... Probably not.

Too bad I lack the skills to try writing something like this.

Sunday, December 12 (uploaded later)
I downloaded NetHack 3.3.0 earlier today. Don't know if I'll actually take the time to learn it (there's no doubt it's got a learning curve), but I've been hearing about it and all its relatives for years... Figured it'd be worth taking a look, especially since this version just came out.

Friday, December 10, 14:49 CST
I just heard Laurel's one-act play ("Dark of the Moon") won the state competition (for which we're out of school today). Not a play I was especially fond of, but they did a good job with it. Congrats!

What else...

There's finally a new Dæmonsong episode up.

I saw End of Days Wednesday night. I guess it wasn't as bad as I expected, for whatever that's worth. It did have some cool moments, and competent visuals. Gabriel Byrne makes a pretty decent Satan. Beyond that, though... Might warrant a video rental, if you're a Schwarzenegger fan.

Friday, December 10, 0:00 CST
Just watched 10 Things I Hate About You. The best Highschool Movie I've seen in a very long time. Sure, there're a lot of crappy Highschool Movies, but this one was actually fun to watch, well written, and fairly intelligent to boot. Possibly because it's The Taming of the Shrew, which I didn't catch on to until all the Shakespeare references really started to pile up (hey, I haven't read it yet).

Hmm. Editing this in vi over a telnet session may be a bad idea. Things were working fine until I started pasting gigantic URL's in, but...

Thursday, December 9, 17:59 CST
I am noticing some definite advantages to vi, though using it is still far from comfortable (comfortable? I'm just far enough from being totally lost to make this bearable). It has a certain efficiency, kind of an elegance to it. Gives you the feeling that if you knew what you were doing, you could really fly.

Speaking of software, I should mention a Windows telnet/SSH client called PuTTY. One of those nifty little programs that make life on Windows much easier.

Took down that link to my Lynx bookmarks file... Need to come up with something better.

Tuesday, December 7, 22:00 CST
This is interesting. Messing with vi again. I still don't know about this. Completely different from every editing model I've ever used before. Which isn't a bad thing, but it could take some serious getting used to.

I think I've got the basic movement commands (hjkl) down, along with inserting and appending (though I'm never sure which to use) text. The rest of it, though...

Syntax highlighting or something would help a great deal here. Maybe I should take a look at vim again.

Monday, December 6, 21:00 CST
A bit more minor ASCII art.

I came across Dan's Web Tips the other day. Some interesting and well written stuff, mostly from a view of the web I agree with.

Monday, December 6, 0:45 CST
That's the problem with having a bunch of stuff to say, and then not saying it for a while. You forget everything.

Hmm.

Oh yeah. An idea. I was talking to Gurney a while back, and we started talking about 3D shells and interfaces, and what it'd take for one to be practical, and I got a somewhat cool image of a translucent green cube containing a kind of multilevel version of the Bash Shell hanging there in space. Like a 3D xterm with eye candy, and some sort of metaphor for managing processes in 3 dimensions. And then I thought of it graphically displaying standard input and output - you type "cat bill.txt the.txt cat.txt | less" and watch a pipe extend to a new cube, text streaming through it and into less. We talked some more, and... Why not represent an entire Unix-like environment this way? (Do I know Unix? Not really. Linux? Only enough to know I'm hopelessly clueless. Fair warning.) Think of an overall effect something like William Gibson's Matrix - giant glowing geometrical shapes in primary colors, cool eye candy, the kind of thing that no self respecting hacker would look at twice as a primary interface, but with an actual purpose. Sort of.

Shells and text programs mapped to faces of geometrical solids (add a process, add another face), X windows hanging in constellations around them or mapped to the same solid. Pipelines and redirections and file accesses and network traffic blazing from place to place in glowing streams of text. Multiple users, each in their own space. The kernel a blazing sun around which all else orbits, resplendent with useless-eye-candy lens flare effects, daemons and drivers circling close around it. The superuser a lurking dark presence on the edge of vision. Other systems on the network visible as distant stars...

(And all of this completely customizable, of course - the visual metaphor you choose is up to you. Root sees all, everyone else is more restricted... Access privileges are represented by a kind of fog-of-war.)

I explained that badly, and it probably doesn't make much sense anyway. But nagging little practical considerations aside (like the frightening hardware resources it would require, the incredible amount of effort that'd be required to write it, the lack of an interface adequate to the task of navigating it quickly with minimal effort) maybe it has some merit. Or not. Looks cool in my head, anyway.

See, if I were really using HTML to its fullest potential, I'd probably load the previous few paragraphs down with links so that someone who doesn't know, say, what the Bourne Again SHell is, could find out. Then again, maybe that'd just provide needless distractions.

Hmm. Again.

Thursday, December 2, 23:59 CST (Or thereabouts... Clock losing time)
Hmm... Doesn't look like I'm going to get much typed here before I succumb to sleep once again. Oh well.

I see Gurney's (yeah, we're not on IRC... I should probably use his real name, but that's a difficult habit to break, ya know?) now in charge of a BeOS site on About.com. Which, of course, reminds me that I really need to give the BeOS a try. One of these years...

I also notice that Stephen's Home Page is migrating to a new address.

Went to Toy Story 2 with my family last Wednesday. Excellent flick. Superb animation, and a well written story that doesn't suffer in the least from sequelitis. Better than the first, IMO. Maybe not as ground-breaking, but I think movies like this do a lot to advance animation in this country, just by being Good and Not The Same Old Thing.

There were some interesting trailers in front of TS2 - one for The Bicentennial Man, which looks like it has great potential, and a longish one (actually just part of the opening scenes) for Dinosaur, which I'm thinking must be Pixar's next project.

I picked up a copy of Lord of Light, by Roger Zelazny, in the used book section of a bookstore in Manhattan, KS... (Right next to a copy of The Wandering Fire, which I should have grabbed.) A very cool book. It's set on a colony world where those who control technology have set themselves up as the gods of the Hindu pantheon, which is probably about all the spoiler I should give. Reminded me of Creatures of Light and Darkness in some ways, which is a good thing. The writing is full of jarring, satisfyingly weird imagery and dialog... Zelazny had a knack for combining the sublimely weird and sometimes beautiful with the mundane (and hilarious). Another author (like Bradbury and Neal Stephenson) who makes me think "Argh! Why can't I write like that? Ok, so it's because I'm not a creative genius, but still, it'd be cool...".

Should write more...

Must sleep... (Can you tell?)

Sleep is winning.

More later.

Wednesday, December 1, 0:18 CST
Got back Saturday. Should've updated this long ago.

Since I haven't had much sleep lately, I think I'll put off talking about all the stuff I've got to talk about until tomorrow, rather than starting now and doing a lousy job of it.

I do want to mention a very cool /. piece by Tom Christiansen, Interface Zen - talks about achieving that state of one-ness with your computer where the machine itself just sort of disappears, and how keyboards and mice and bad program design can interfere with this, among other things.