Monday, August 30, 0:57 CDT
I got home on the morning of the 17th, around 7:00, after an 11 hour bus ride. I think it's safe to say that I won't Go Greyhound again any time in the near future.

School's been going for a week now. No big surprises there (yeah, it still sucks). My classes are as tough as they've ever been, which doesn't make much sense. Given my academic history (or the lack thereof), you'd think I'd have just taken shop and home ec classes and coasted through my senior year. But no-o-o-o...

I saw The 13th Warrior (Crichton's Eaters of the Dead) last night. It was better than I'd expected, but that's not saying much. In fairness, it had the feeling of something that at least had potential, and there were some cool scenes scattered in there. It did start me thinking about how cool a Beowulf movie could be, if it were done right. Which it wouldn't be, of course.

I've seen The Iron Giant twice now. A truly excellent movie. One of the best this year, in fact, and maybe the best animated film this country has ever seen. I'm not going to try writing a review. (This one on AICN, and this one do a better job than I could.) Suffice it to say that if you still have an chance to see it in a theater, do so. I'd love to go back a 3rd time, but of course it's gone from local theaters, having sunk like a rock at the box office.

Mystery Men was decent. Great idea, and plenty of talented actors. Maybe it didn't come together as well as it could have, but it's still worth seeing.

I finally got ahold of The Darkest Road (thanks Gul), final book in The Fionavar Tapestry by Guy G. Kay. There's no question his later work is better; and sure, Fionavar gets a little too Tolkienesque at times, but in the end, it really doesn't matter. This book is beautiful. It's sad, triumphant, and powerfully written, and I reccomend this series wholeheartedly.

After The Darkest Road, I read Count Zero, by William Gibson. It's not quite a sequel to Neuromancer, but it shares the world and some of the characters. Like Neuromancer, it took a while to drag me in, but once it did, it rocked. Sure, the flashy VR environments and cyberspace cowboys doing battle with big colorful shapes are completely unrealistic, but it's loads of fun to read.

I bought a copy of The Callahan Chronicals, a nice big trade paperback that contains the first 3 collections of Callahan's Place stories, by Spider Robinson. If you've never heard of Callahan's Place, it's the setting for the best SF bar stories ever written, period. (Higher praise than you might think.)

I'm still using my Palm3x to read e-texts. I'm working my way through The Three Musketeers right now (great so far). It's great to be able to pull up CSpotRun and read when I've got a few minutes to kill. It's also easier than lugging yet another book around, and teachers seem less likely to notice. ;)

I finally bought Linux in a Nutshell and Learning Perl, both from O'Reilly.

Linux in a Nutshell is a straightforward reference book with listings for most of the basic commands, and sections on Emacs, vi, Perl, bash, csh/tcsh, and some other stuff. It's already proven useful. Wish I'd had it earlier.

Learning Perl is more of a tutorial, meant to teach the basics of the language. From reading through the first chapter, it seems well written and informative. Not too textbook-ish. I only hope I actually know something by the time I've worked my way through it.

In general, the O'Reilly books seem quite good. And quite expensive. Maybe that's inevitable, but at these prices, it's gonna be a while before I can afford to build up a (paper) reference library.

I checked to see if our Mac could run the BeOS. No dice. It doesn't run on G3 processors, since Apple refuses to release info they need, and Be doesn't want to take the necessary steps to work around this. (I gather they don't want to spend the money to do it themselves, and since they want to stay proprietary, they can't use the work done by a free OS. Or something like that.) Looks like I'll be going with LinuxPPC, whenever I get a CD ordered. I suppose I could download it on a machine at school, but I understand a full install runs to around 500 megs.

There's a new episode of Daemonsong out.

Hmm... Just noticed a bit on AICN about the possibility of The Iron Giant getting some intelligent marketing and a re-release. We can only hope, I guess.

Well, there's quite a bit more I could write, but I'm starting to feel sleep deprived again, so I guess that's it for now. If there're errors here, I guess I can fix 'em later.

tags: topics/fantasy, topics/guy-gavriel-kay, topics/reading

p1k3 / 1999 / 8 / 30

Thursday, August 5, 17:20 CDT
Well, this could be the last chance I get to update for a while. Two family reunions coming up shortly. I gather I'm leaving tomorrow (always good to find this stuff out in advance), will be back Monday, and then leave again on Tuesday. After which I probably won't be home again until the 18th.

Hmm... If you're a BeOS user looking for a way to keep track of your finances, take a look at Accountability.

I really need to get Be running on something one of these days. It may not be free software (which, IMHO, is an important consideration) but it *does* sound like Software That Doesn't Suck, which we could always use more of. Soon as I get done writing this, I'll find out if it's capable of running on the Macintosh that's been taking up space downstairs for months.

Maybe if the Mac was running something less crash prone, I could convince my mom to try getting some use out of it again...

I guess if it won't run the BeOS, there's nothing to lose in trying Linux/PPC, which I'd like to see running on a machine or two at school... I have this vague notion of finding some way to slip a Linux/PPC box in, in place of one running the MacOS and At Ease (a graphical shell kinda thingy that provides a login, lets you access documents on a server, and exists mainly to impose massive restrictions on pretty much everything else), and seeing what happens.

Interesting piece on Slashdot, about the mainstream success of Linux driving off users who want to feel special and exclusive about using an alternative OS. Topical, I guess, since I've started noticing morons obsessed with how using Linux makes them so 'leet, and how much everyone who doesn't sucks, floating around IRC servers and so forth. (I guess this is really a different, but related, phenomenon. It's been going on for quite a while of course, but this kind of increase must mean growing mainstream awareness. Or something.)

What's far more interesting than the article itself, though, is the discussion... I tend to agree with the people who use Linux (or maybe it'd be better to say an OS based on the Linux kernel) because it's a free, open system that fits their needs, not out of some pathetic need to be "trendy".

And besides, well, it *is* pretty cool... ;)

Anyway, others have said it far better (and more often) than I can. I think I'll go read one of the half dozen books I'm in the middle of for a while...

p1k3 / 1999 / 8 / 5

Tuesday, August 3

I just spent 3+ hours attempting to install Windows 98 on the single Debian box I had set up at the school, so that it could be dual booted. I had left a 1.5 gig partition free, and backed up the important stuff, just in case I had to reformat the whole drive... How hard could it possibly be?

Never, ever, ask how hard it could possibly be. That's right up there with asking "How could it possibly get any worse?" or demanding that the main Bad Guy in the flick give you what you've got coming.

What kind of sadistic bastard came up with a setup program that produces warnings like "Note for experienced users and administrators: this will delete all files and partitions on the drive, and create a single partition...", without allowing you to *change* anything?

I'm guessing some more monkeying around with DOS's fdisk, or something else I missed entirely, *might* have let me install it on that first partition, but somewhere in there it messed things up completely enough that I just gave up and let it reformat the entire drive. After watching the insipid installation program tell me how much faster, more fun, and easier to use the computer would be once it was finished, I had to deal with Plug and Play, and watch as Windows failed to find drivers for half a dozen pieces of hardware. I lost track of reboots somewhere around 7.

I don't know whose skewed idea of "user friendly" this is, but it sure ain't mine. The confusion I felt the first time I tried installing Linux doesn't even approach the sheer frustration caused by dealing with as brain damaged an OS as Windows.

Before I made the mistake of deciding to set up a dual boot system, (after all, I figured, this way it'll blend in better, be useful to more people) that humble little box provided a comfortable GUI environment, countless useful tools, shell access from any computer in the building, a web and FTP server...

Folks, software doesn't have to suck. You have choices.


Ok, I'm done. For now.

Tuesday, August 3, 1:40 CDT
Sorta missed a week there...

It hasn't exactly been a good one. I managed to break my youngest sister's nose with a baseball (we were playing catch, I threw two balls at once, she went for one... *crack*). Why don't my really stupid mistakes ever injure anyone who deserves it?

Thursday I was told I really ought to be taking medication for Attention Deficit Disorder, a course of action I will probably be pushed into simply because to object to it would seem so very unreasonable. You know that wonderfully suffocating feeling of being capable of controlling your own life, while knowing full well that if you do, the cost will be more than you're willing to pay?

Friday I got a flat tire (which comes of leaving assorted sharp bits of metal laying around the driveway after building a garage), and had a couple of wisdom teeth pulled, which pretty much rounded things out for the week.

The news lately hasn't exactly been very uplifting, has it? Mass murder, moronic legislation (seems *really* thick lately), and general suckiness seem to be drowning most everything else out.

Sudden pleasant thought... Orson Scott Card's new book, Ender's Shadow, should be out before too long. It takes place during the events of Ender's Game, and tells the story of Bean, one of my favorite characters from EG. It'd be next to impossible for Card to equal Ender's Game, but I'm not ruling out the possibility... And I'll no doubt spring for the hardcover as soon as I see it.

Always good to see another Pilot pen addict.

p1k3 / 1999 / 8 / 3