Tuesday, February 29, 22:01 CST
Happy bissextile day, everyone.

Tim O'Reilly has a piece up talking about Amazon.com's recent software patent hijinks, and the boycott. He's also posted an open letter to Amazon, and is inviting people to sign. He's not outright supporting the boycott (given how many O'Reilly books Amazon sells, this isn't exactly surprising), but this is a fairly strong statement to be making. And I pretty much have to agree with most of his arguments. If and when Amazon stops engaging in this sort of idiocy, they might see my business again. Given that they apparently just got a patent on the associates program, I doubt that's happening any time soon.

Hmm... Suppose I should go through all my back updates and clean out associates program links to Amazon. I'm pretty sure I've never gotten a single referral fee, but last I checked I was sending them half a dozen hits a week. (We're talking BIG numbers here.)

Monday, February 28 (posted later)
I'm sorry, but that was just *bad*. Granted, I haven't followed X-Files much, and this has been a weak season, but that has to rank as the single worst episode I've ever seen them attempt. Ill-conceived, poorly executed, and just generally annoying. Hackers (you know, the movie with the supercomputer made of giant glass boxes) had more technical accuracy than that. Of course, technical accuracy is a meaningless concept when you're talking about the standard "computer game comes to life! And it's evil!" plot... Let's just keep it simple: That sucked.

Of course, last week's COPS crossover was one of the coolest things I've ever seen on TV. And at this point, you know I'll probably keep watching the show until they run it completely into the ground. (At this rate...)

Sunday, February 27, 13:30 CST
It's beautiful out there. Sun and warmth and all that. Maybe I'm just out of sync with the weather since it hasn't really acted much like winter yet (and it's probably a little late now), but this weather just seems wrong for the end of February. Oh well. Might as well enjoy it. Or at least take a nap in the sun, like all those cats out on the lawn.

I saw Pitch Black Friday, wasn't quite sure what to expect, but figured it'd be worth seeing. I'd say it was actually a better than average Alien(s) ripoff. A cool premise, a decent cast, some good effects and camera work... It really needed *more*, though. A more cohesive plot, a little less predictability, more development of the characters and background... Something. Could've been a great flick. As is, it's scary/cool enough to be entertaining, and there are a few very cool moments.

There was a /. discussion a few days ago on ergonomic keyboards, RSI and so forth, something I've been more than a little interested in lately. Lots of interesting and (as usual) conflicting advice.

Thanks to a suggestion on Stephen's Home Page, I checked out blackbox, a window manager that aims to be fast and efficient, without eye-candy bloat. Sort of the anti-Enlightenment, though it does actually look pretty spiffy, in a sparse sort of way. And it is pleasantly fast on my ancient p75. Now I'm torn between it and Window Maker...

Ok, I'm going outside now.

Tuesday, February 22 (posted later)
My modem is doing weird things. Refuses to reset or hang up. Suppose I'll reboot when I'm done typing this.

Pointless fact(?) of the day: A US $1 bill weighs right around 1 gram. As does a $5 or a $10. Some sort of standard. But if you weigh a $20 (one of the new ones), it's only about .9 grams. The thrilling things you can learn messing around with a scale in physics.

Cool PalmOS software I've installed lately:

  • Galax - Cool little Galaga style alien blasting game.
  • A new version of CSpotRun, a nifty free DOC reader. It's been GPLed now... Something I'd like to contribute to, with the small problem that I don't know C. Yet.

My .exrc (vi configuration) file. Nothing much, but K is mapped to split a line at 80 characters (or at the last word on the line, whichever comes first), which is sort of a useful counterpart to J joining 2 lines. I'm sure there's some other, better way to do this.

Saturday, February 19 (posted later)
There was snow here. At one point, there was even vague hope that the wind would come up, the temperature would drop, and roads would turn into impassible stretches of ice and drifting snow. But nooo. It must be 50 degrees out there. In February.

Saw American Beauty again last night with a friend who missed it the first time around. Suppose I could say something about the Oscars at this point, but I'm pretty sure someone else has already said it.

Guess I'll go outside and do something now.

Thursday, February 17, 22:03 CST
My dad's Handspring Visor came today. From what I've seen so far, it's a cool gadget. Everything (good and bad) you'd expect from a Palm OS machine, with enough small differences to make it stand out. Good case design, buttons with a nice clicky feel to them, a screen that's a noticeable improvement over the Palm3x, a usable looking Date Book program, 8 megs of RAM, a USB docking cradle... On the downside, both the included plastic cover and the stylus suck.

I haven't had any opportunity to check out the Visor's supposedly Killer App feature, the Springboard expansion slot (a Gameboy-like slot on top of the machine that's intended for everything from backup modules and games to cell phones and MP3 players)... Looks like a potentially Cool Thing, anyway. And I imagine my dad'll be happy with it. Unless he decides that it would've been better to stick with 15 pounds of paper organizer, which I suppose is quite possible.

Suppose I should go do homework now. If I can pry my hands from the keyboard and pick up my Backpack 'o Massive Textbooks without being distracted by that copy of The Two Towers sitting next to it...

Once in a while I wish I'd developed some will power.

It usually passes fairly quickly.

Wednesday, February 16, 23:05 CST
Peanut Press, if you haven't heard of them, are attempting to sell e-books for handhelds. They have proprietary reader software I figured would be worth trying, so I installed it and a copy of The Hacker Crackdown, by Bruce Sterling on the Palm3x. The software isn't *great*, but it works pretty well and has a decent feature set (a table of contents, bookmarks, the ability to attach notes to pages, and the tiniest clock display I've ever seen). It just might be worth checking out their catalog - they don't have a lot of titles, but there are some that'd be worth having in an electronic format. On the downside, this isn't exactly an open content system. Not that I've any idea how else to go about actually selling content.

The Hacker Crackdown has been freely available for years, but this is the first I've read it. It tells the story of the federal crackdown on hackers (unfortunate Evil Frightening Computer Intruder clueless media connotation) and phreaks back in the early 90's, a fascinating chain of events with some big consequences. Definitely worth a read.

I should mention Gurney's Cool SF, a sort of weblogish collection of SF-related links and news.

Monday, February 14, 15:14 CST
Everyone's probably heard by now that Charles Schulz died Saturday night. The comics page is a little bleaker, and the rest of the world with it, I think. Wish I'd remembered to buy a Sunday paper with the last Peanuts strip. I'd been reminding myself to do so ever since Schulz announced his retirement.

Well, I'm 19. Another year older, and what do I have to show for it? I mean, what have I actually done in the past year? And what've I gained? I thought the answer was "nothing", until it was pointed out that I can now buy lottery tickets. It may not be much, especially since I couldn't care less about blowing money on the lottery, but it's better than nothing.

Yesterday being my birthday, I went to Sioux City with my dad and my (younger of the two, slightly less weird) sister Heather. Saw Galaxy Quest, and ate at an Applebee's.

Galaxy Quest was great. It managed to make fun of Trek (and cheesy SF in general), the fans, and the characters without being mean spirited or petty in the least. It's as much a tribute as a parody. The kind of movie that appeals to your inner Trek-loving geek on just about every level. (And if you're lacking an inner Trek-loving geek, I can't help but pity you.)

I got a copy of Programming Perl, 2nd Edition. ("So, what do you want for your birthday?" "Hmm. This looks good." "Ok.") At this point, I don't really have any excuse for not doing some of the stuff with this site that I've been wanting to. Sheer laziness aside. I mean, I have any number of tools at my disposal, all the information I need to use them is readily at hand...

There's no school here today. This is a good thing. It's amazing how much better you feel on days when you don't have to get up too early and go somewhere you hate. And somewhere out there, somebody's saying "Yeah, just wait until you get a full time job..."

Saturday, February 12, 23:50 (?) CST
Woke up this morning to the sounds of my sister playing the piano, my dad running a belt sander in the dining room, and a canary attempting to compete with both of them. It being Saturday, I went back to sleep. Gotta love the weekend.

Saw Girl, Interrupted last night. Enjoyed it. Good acting by both Winona Ryder and Angelina Jolie, who makes for an excellent sociopath. Good supporting cast as well, though I'd be hard put to name anyone aside from Whoopi Goldberg. The ending was a little weak, and there wasn't much in the way of a plot, but that's ok.

I felt a little subversive not seeing Scream 3, unlike everyone else at the theater between the ages of 2 and 36. As a friend of mine pointed out, we could've seen an early showing, then waited around for a later one and told everyone in the theater who the killer was. Shame ideas like that only come after it's too late to act on them. (Ok, maybe not.)

Thursday, February 10, 23:30 CST
Shuffled old updates around. I should probably find a better way to archive things than a massive page with everything for an entire year on it.

Wednesday, February 9
Ok, I'm gonna try this again.

Too much stuff has happened lately that I should mention here. Don't really know where to start.

I was sick towards the end of last week and over the weekend. Missed a couple days of school, then dragged myself out of bed at 5:15 Saturday morning to go get beaten at a science bowl competition in Lincoln. In retrospect, I should've just kept sleeping. But hey, I did get a free t-shirt out of the deal. And nothing says "cool" like a Regional Science Bowl t-shirt with a microscope logo on the front.

I ordered a Handspring Visor Deluxe for my dad the other day so he can impress his cowworkers who have Palm III's and V's. The Visor looks like a cool machine - Sort of a souped up Palm V with an expansion slot intended for everything from game cartridges to cel phones and MP3 players. And the Deluxe model has 8 megs of RAM, for $249 US. If there's a serious drawback, it's that it doesn't appear to have flash RAM, making OS upgrades impossible. (There's a good review up on The Gadgeteer.)

I just discovered my brain is mostly wired for vi now. XEmacs feels sort of cumbersome, and I keep trying to use vi commands in Pine. I guess this isn't entirely a bad thing, especially since vi keystrokes seem to be easier on the hands (aside from pounding ESC a lot).

The past few days (mostly while looking around for ideas or software to rip off for this site), I've stumbled across the fascinating world of weblogs. What, exactly, is a weblog? Well, as near as I can figure out, it's sort of like what I've been doing here for a couple of years. Except that it's far more heavily linked, the commentary is actually intelligent and worth reading, and it's actually updated on a regular basis.

dmoz has a decent weblog section. There's a decent FAQ here. Blogger (which looks like a pretty cool tool) seems to be used by a lot of people, and has some good links. Of those I've spent any time reading so far, my favorite is probably lake effect. memepool is pretty cool too.

Wednesday, February 2, 23:00 CST
Happy Even Day, all.