Monday, October 25, 23:50 CDT
Once again, not much has happened lately. I took the ACT again Saturday (ahh, the myriad joys of standardized testing with little bubbles). I might've done worse this time, but I think the test was actually easier. Regardless of what I get, it's not like I have anything to complain about.

Some advice for anyone taking the ACT (keeping in mind that free advice is usually worth what it costs) - As far as I can tell, aside from the math section, a high score depends on how well you can read and understand stuff. That's it. If you read well, you'll probably score pretty high. If not, it doesn't much matter how smart you are, or how much you know.

Saturday night, I rented Monty Python and the Holy Grail with a friend. It'd been far too long...

Follow. But! Follow only if ye be men of valour, for the entrance to this cave is guarded by a creature so foul, so cruel that no man yet has fought with it and lived! Bones of full fifty men lie strewn about its lair. So, brave knights, if you do doubt your courage or your strength, come no further, for death awaits you all with nasty, big, pointy teeth!

p1k3 / 1999 / 10 / 25

Thursday, October 21, 23:59 CDT
This is the coolest thing I have ever seen. Ok, that's an exaggeration. It's gotta be the coolest thing I've ever seen done with Doom, though.

I've got to mention Eric Conveys an Emotion here. Go ahead, give it a shot. And if you don't find it hilarious, don't ask me to explain it. I'm quite certain I can't.

I downloaded and installed Palm OS 3.3 on the Palm IIIx last night. It's a fairly minor upgrade, with some cool new stuff - HotSync is faster and you can sync over IR - but the best reason to install it is the weird, random looking noise that displays on the screen while it's being installed in flash memory. Kind of reminiscent of Snow Crash.

p1k3 / 1999 / 10 / 21

Tuesday, October 19, 21:53 CDT
630+ hits.

A little surprising, to say the least. Granted, on the scale of actual traffic, this doesn't even register, but it's still more than I ever would've expected.

Looking at logged HTTP_REFERER's and IP addresses reveals quite a bit, though. It seems this page is actually well indexed on search engines and directories, a lot of which scan it on a regular basis. I'm not sure why. Meta tags with keywords seem to make a big difference, though. And there're some words that, even used once somewhere in a document, attract attention - "porn", for example. One can see how some unethical individuals might just be able to use this to their advantage. Couldn't be that hard to fill up a new page with high interest keywords and start pulling in massive traffic, then load it with lucrative banner advertising... Bad thoughts. Out of my head! Out!

And then there're the Germans. "Brennen" as a keyword seems to pull in a *lot* of them. Judging by the stuff they search for, most are looking for warez and CD burning info, neither of which is all that plentiful around here. Too bad I don't know German...

And of course there're all two of my actual regular readers. You guys rock. ;)

p1k3 / 1999 / 10 / 19

Monday, October 18, 21:22 CDT
I love this time of year. Actual cold in the air, leaves starting to drop, stuff crunching underfoot, about a million different excuses to light a fire... The way you can wake up and know that it's *cold*, and fall back to sleep under 50 pounds of blankets... The sound of farm equipment that I don't have to know anything about or do anything with running in nearby fields...


p1k3 / 1999 / 10 / 18

Sunday, October 17, 22:20 CDT
I saw American Beauty again Friday night, followed by Fight Club...


Fight Club is impressive. Disturbing, unsettling, and darkly funny. The sort of thing that's going to have lots of people in an uproar and completely missing the valid points it makes in the midst of ideas they find abhorent. A movie that makes you *think*, or at least it should. It's also got an excellent visual and narrative style... Interesting to note that both this and American Beauty, probably the two best movies of the year, use voiceover narration to great effect. How often do you see that? Unlike AB, of course, lots of people will actually listen to me when I tell them they should see Fight Club - it's easily marketable as an action flick, it's got violence and Brad Pitt, and it's rife with quotable dialog. ("The first rule of Fight Club is, you do not talk about...", well, you've seen the trailer.)

After I got home from the theater, I read the last 50 pages or so of Sailing to Sarantium, Guy G. Kay's most recent novel. It's set in the same world as The Lions of Al-Rassan, though in a setting and period based on the Byzantine Empire under the rule of Justinian. Very much worth reading (if Kay's ever written anything that *isn't*, I'm unaware of it), but since it's the first in a series (trilogy?), I won't try to judge it as a stand alone novel.

I'm going to have to re-read Tigana and The Lions of Al-Rassan fairly soon, I think. And it's been almost a year since I read the LotR... (Actually, it was October 18 when I mentioned it here.)

I also finished The Big U. Not a great book, but definitely a good one, with some cool moments. And some giant rats. And a rail gun. I can see why Stephenson wouldn't want this to be considered in the same light as his newer stuff (well, everything he's written since then), but I'd like to see it re-issued at some point. It'd be worth owning a paperback copy. Anyway, if you're interested in reading it, inter-library loan is worth a try.

More later, I suppose.

p1k3 / 1999 / 10 / 17
tags: topics/guy-gavriel-kay, topics/reading

Wednesday, October 13, 23:50 CDT
There was a recent /. piece about The Big U, by Neal Stephenson. I gather it was published back in the early 80's, and sort of disappeared not long thereafter. It's Stephenson's first novel, and apparently not one he's very proud of, but still I've been wanting to read it for quite a while. There were a lot of suggestions to try inter-library loan, and I figured it was worth the effort of asking... Amazingly enough, a copy actually showed up today as I was dozing through Physics. Brightened my whole day.

The directory w/ what few images I use on this site seems to have died at some point, and I find myself without a backup (had everything else locally, but not imgs/). Not a huge loss, really. I should take it as an opportunity to start fresh with a few things - maybe switch to PNG's, for example. Of course, browser support for the format is pretty much abysmal...

p1k3 / 1999 / 10 / 13
tags: topics/neal-stephenson

Tuesday, October 12, 0:39 CDT
Well, this has been a waste of a day. If I had the energy, I might complain at some length.

Rented Pushing Tin Friday. Decent flick, I guess, though it could've been quite a bit better. Still haven't made it back to see American Beauty again. This week, maybe.

I may've mentioned this before, but tomsrtbt is cool. It's a single-floppy Linux distribution with a *lot* of functionality. Aside from being a cool toy, it can be an impressively useful tool.

Using tomsrtbt and an external Zip drive, I managed to get the Debian base system installed on that old IBM. Now all I need to do is coax the ethernet card into actually working, and download some stuff... Ok, so this has probably become more work than it's worth, but it's the principle of the thing.

I bought Sailing to Sarantium, Guy G. Kay's latest book, yesterday. I think I can hear it calling me. Time to go read until sleep deprivation really sets in...

p1k3 / 1999 / 10 / 12
tags: topics/reading

Wednesday, October 6, ??:?? CDT
Well, I'm liking the loft, although the amount of old furniture we keep moving up here is a little frightening. And that metal desk with the 1960's institutional green paint (the kind of thing you'd expect to see in a hospital or an asylum or something) sucked to move up the stairs.

I spent last night attempting to install Debian on an old IBM 486 for use as a web server. Actually a decent little machine, with one problem - no CD-ROM. You know, I'd almost managed to forget the bad old days, when floppies reigned supreme. You don't realize how much having a cheap, reliable form of mass storage has changed things until you try doing without it. Then suddenly it all comes rushing back. The piles of floppies in old shoeboxes. Hour long multi-disk swapfests for game installs. Watching that little progress indicator climb slooooowly toward 100%. The joys of DOS boot disks. Rebooting, editing autoexec.bat, rebooting again - 659 times...

At this point, my one option would appear to be installing the base system with floppies and FTPing the rest. I'm just not sure if it's worth the effort of finding that many (reliable) floppies and spending that much time downloading. Maybe I should try using one of the mini Linux distros that run and boot off a floppy to partition the drive and download the necessary files... At any rate, I need to get *something* working before someone at school decides to spend 3 or 4 grand for a dedicated web server...

Hmm. I'm betting that while I've been out here, it's gotten really late. And I should probably do some physics. There are half a dozen other things I'd rather do that would probably be more valuable to me in the long run, but we all know homework is more important, right?

From here on out, I think I'll avoid making any promises as to when I'll be adding new stuff. For example, I could say I'm going to put up several lengthy pages of actual content and a bunch of scanned images within a week or so, but we all know better.

p1k3 / 1999 / 10 / 6

Sunday, October 3, 21:30 CDT
Missed a couple of days there - my computer and its peripherals were sort of scattered. I've now got my computer out in the loft of the garage we've more or less finished building. It's sort of bright and airy and open here, and people keep walking through. Weird.

Hmm. I hear the sounds of a nail gun downstairs, and the air compressor keeps kicking on. This probably means my parents are working on something. Something I should go help with.

[time passes, sounds of hammering and cordless drill with low battery]

I'm back.

And now they're carrying a couch up the stairs. A very old, large couch. It's sort of gold and green, with what looks like a floral pattern. Wonderful. Now I'll have a place to crash when it's 3 in the morning and 30 below and I don't feel like walking to the house. That is, assuming the couch isn't home to a large family of rodents and insects after sitting in a shed for a year or three...

If you possibly can, see American Beauty. It might be the greatest movie I've ever seen. (I attempted a review, but not with much success.)

They're yelling something again. Which probably means they want help moving furniture around. I'll upload this when I get the chance.

p1k3 / 1999 / 10 / 3